Wednesday, September 1, 2021
► From the Spokesman-Review — Hospitalizations, deaths due to COVID-19 continue dangerous climb in Inland Northwest — The Delta variant has led to a massive surge in hospitalizations in the Inland Northwest and subsequent deaths. In both Washington and Idaho, the vast majority of hospitalized COVID patients and those who die from the virus are unvaccinated. In Spokane County, 18 COVID-related deaths were reported in the last week alone.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Tri-Cities leaders send urgent, open letter. COVID is ‘raging through our community’ — “Although vaccination is one of the key strategies to ending the pandemic, it is time for everyone to do whatever they can to stop spread. Everyone.”
► From the Spokesman-Review — Idaho governor: State’s hospitals may not be able to care for all patients soon, pleads for people to get vaccinated
► From the Seattle Times — After a COVID skeptic falls to the disease, people ask an awkward question: Should we care? (by Danny Westneat) — On July 20, one skeptic wrote: “Covid isn’t the primary pandemic anymore. Irrational fear is.” Four days later, his posts stopped. He was in a medically induced coma, due to COVID. Two weeks after that he was dead. Many north Puget Sounders have expressed public condolences for his passing. But many others, put off by his record of spreading COVID doubts and conspiracies, have all but danced on his grave.
MASK AND VACCINE MANDATES
► From the Detroit News — New AFL-CIO president: ‘Everyone should be vaccinated’ — Liz Shuler, the new president of the largest federation of unions in America, said Tuesday that everyone should be vaccinated against COVID-19 and urged AFL-CIO member unions to be a source of “reliable, good information” on vaccines for their members. “We think everyone should be vaccinated. That’s the only way we’re going to bring back the economy,” Shuler said Tuesday. “I’ll be honest with you: Our unions are in different places.”
The Stand (Aug. 30) — WSLC vaccine info site available for union members
The Stand (Jan. 22) — WSLC offers COVID vaccination resource for union members
► From Crosscut — Vaccine-hesitant Washingtonians open up about their fears — Street-corner protesters spurred on by misinformation and attention-hungry politicians may be the popular conception of an unvaccinated American, and 52% of unvaccinated American adults do say they won’t be vaccinated under any circumstances, according to recent polling. But about 37% of those who’ve eschewed the coronavirus vaccines say they’re still considering it. And those unvaccinated come from a more politically, racially diverse group.
The Stand (Aug. 31) — Union members urged to share concerns on vaccine mandates — If you are a union member who remains unvaccinated or has concerns about employer vaccine mandates, we need to hear from you. Please fill out this form indicating your concerns.
► From McClatchy — Hanford orders new COVID vaccine requirement for 11,000 workers — Hanford nuclear reservation workers who do not provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 will be required to be tested at least weekly for the coronavirus to be allowed on site. The policy will cover about 11,000 Department of Energy, contractor and subcontractor workers. Many workers could be required to comply as soon as mid September.
► From the Seattle Times — Washington State Ferries cruise toward a rocky Labor Day weekend — Canceled sailings at Washington State Ferries could worsen for Labor Day weekend as crew shortages and quarantines continue to rock the schedules, and rumors abound that some workers might skip holiday shifts to protest mandatory vaccinations. Travelers are advised to prepare for delays, or consider walking aboard, the agency said in a news release late Tuesday.
► From KIMA — Local WSDOT workers threatening to quit over vax mandate, what could the impact be? — Local WSDOT employees say there’s a significant number of them fighting against the vaccine mandate, some threatening to quit, warning the impacts of their leaving could be huge.
► From the (Longview) Daily News — Cowlitz County commissioners approve resolutions opposing vaccine mandates — One resolution states the board “supports citizens’ rights to oppose coerced vaccination in Cowlitz County.” The board, within the limits of its authority, may exclude entities requiring vaccination from receiving county money, the measure states. Dozens of citizens, none wearing face masks, packed the meeting room Tuesday.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Mob’s actions at school board meeting unacceptable (editorial) — The conduct on display at a recent Marysville School Board meeting is disturbing and infuriating, particularly so for parents and students who are eager for a return this month to in-classroom instruction that was largely denied them for much of the last two school years during the coronavirus pandemic. But it’s also maddening for the troubling lack of respect shown local elected officials and school district employees whose job it is to deliver a quality education to public school students while ensuring the safety of students, teachers, staff and the public. And it should be recognized for what it is: a threat to public meetings and local democratic decision making.
► From the Washington Post — A Georgia vaccine site had to close after protesters bullied health care-workers: ‘This is absolutely wrong’
► From the Washington Post — Doctors dismayed by patients who fear coronavirus vaccines, but clamor for unproven ivermectin — Promoted by conservative talk show hosts, politicians and even some physicians as an effective treatment for COVID-19, the medicine used to kill parasites in animals has soared in popularity. Health departments are warning of spikes in ivermectin poisoning and hospitalizations as people snap up feed store products meant for large animals. “You are not a horse,” the Food and Drug Administration felt compelled to declare last month. “You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it.”
► MUST-READ from the NY Times — This is the moment the anti-vaccine movement has been waiting for — Over the last six years, anti-vaccine groups and leaders built a vast network that is now the foundation of vaccination opposition by conservative groups and legislators across the country. They have taken common-sense concepts — that parents should be able to raise their children as they see fit, and that medical decisions should be autonomous and private — and warped them in ways that have set back decades of public health advances. Those who are baffled by the outsize influence of the anti-vaccine movement must understand how carefully its leaders have navigated their way to this point.
► From the Yakima Herald — Yakima County agrees to settlement in lawsuit alleging disenfranchisement of Latino voters — Yakima County commissioners have agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging violations of the Voting Rights Act, an immigrant rights group announced Tuesday.
► From the AFL-CIO — Nation’s mayors support the PRO Act — “The nation’s mayors have called for passage of the PRO Act, and now it is time for the senators in Washington to listen,” said AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler. “Today’s resolution sends a clear message to Congress — the PRO Act and the Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act, have widespread national support and must become the law of the land.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan sponsored this resolution.
► From The Hill — AFL-CIO chief warns of election consequences for pro-filibuster Democrats — “Workers want to hold elected officials accountable on an agenda that they voted for. Right now that agenda is being blocked by arcane rules in the Senate. We believe that voters will take that into consideration for the next election,” AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler told reporters during a Tuesday event hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “Elected officials, if they’re not listening, that’s when elections end up having consequences.”
► From The Hill — Labor Dept. forms new office to modernize, reform unemployment insurance system — The agency said the unit will oversee and manage the $2 billion allocated to the department under the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package President Biden signed in March to address some of the major challenges states have faced in the past year, including to “prevent and detect fraud, promote equitable access, ensure timely benefits payments and reduce backlogs.”
► From the Washington Post — Corporate America launches massive lobbying blitz to kill key parts of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion economic plan — The emerging opposition appears to be vast, spanning drug manufacturers, big banks, tech titans, major retailers and oil-and-gas giants. In recent weeks, top Washington organizations representing these and other industries have started strategizing behind the scenes, seeking to scuttle key elements in Democrats’ proposed overhaul to federal health care, education and safety net programs.
► From the AP — A new report says the COVID recession has pushed Social Security insolvency up a year — The new projections in the annual Social Security and Medicare trustees reports indicate that Social Security’s massive trust fund will be unable to pay full benefits in 2034 instead of last year’s estimated exhaustion date of 2035. For the first time in 39 years the cost of delivering benefits will exceed the program’s total income from payroll tax collections and interest during this year. From here on, Social Security will be tapping its savings to pay full benefits. The depletion date for Medicare’s trust fund for inpatient care remained unchanged from last year, estimated in 2026.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Scrap the cap.
► From the AP — Black farmers awaiting billions in promised debt relief — The federal government wants to make amends for past racial discrimination by providing billions of dollars in debt forgiveness for farmers of color as part of the pandemic relief package. But a judge has put the money on hold in the face of lawsuits filed by white farmers claiming that the program is unfair — reverse discrimination.
► From Politico — McCarthy threatens companies that comply with Jan. 6 probe’s phone records requests — Congressional committees have routinely subpoenaed data from private companies, but the House minority leader says a future GOP majority “will not forget.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — How is this not obstruction of justice?
► From NPR — Texas law that bans abortion before many women know they’re pregnant takes effect — Legislation banning abortions after about six weeks is now the law of the land in Texas, effectively ending Roe v. Wade protections in the state. In a move that surprised some high court watchers, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t act on an emergency request to stop the law from taking effect by midnight Tuesday. This allowed the policy to go ahead despite court challenges.
EDITOR’S NOTE — With the 2019 passage of Resolution #31, “the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, affirms that reproductive rights are workers’ rights and will defend and support efforts to obtain and maintain health care for working people covering all reproductive rights choices.”
► From HuffPost — Texas lawmakers pass bill restricting voting rights — A Republican-led bill restricting access to the vote has passed the Texas Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk, who is expected sign it into law.
► From the Washington Post — Texas parents accused a Black principal of promoting critical race theory. The district has now suspended him. — A parent also complained to the district about a photo James Whitfield had posted on social media that showed him and his wife, who is White, in an embrace, celebrating their wedding anniversary. “Is this the Dr. Whitfield we want as an example for our students?” the parent asked. The school district asked Whitfield to remove the photo to avoid further controversy.
► From the AP — Texas school district temporarily closes after 2 teachers die of COVID-19 — The suburban Waco school has had 51 confirmed COVID-19 cases since classes began Aug. 18. It was not immediately known if either teacher was vaccinated. The rolling seven-day average of daily COVID-19 deaths in Texas is 200 per day.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who recently contracted COVID himself, has banned local mask requirements in the state’s public schools.
► From NPR — In Texas, 666 laws take effect Sept. 1, including many conservative priorities — One new law allows anyone who owns a firearm to carry it in public without a permit, as long as it’s in a holster. That’s a first since Reconstruction.
► From Reuters — U.S. childcare in short supply as burned-out workers quit, new hires hard to find — Childcare centers across the country are struggling to find enough qualified educators to be fully staffed for back-to-school season, an obstacle that has some schools reducing planned enrollment and cutting back hours. Owners of childcare centers say more workers are quitting and fewer people than usual are applying for open positions.
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 the LA Times — An epic battle to save South Lake Tahoe as Caldor fire rages toward Nevada — The Caldor fire has skirted a high granite ridge protecting South Lake Tahoe and is threatening thousands of homes in heavily forested neighborhoods.
► From Reuters — Pilots union sues Southwest Airlines, alleges violation of federal labor law — The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association filed a complaint in federal court in Dallas on Monday claiming that the carrier implemented an “emergency time off” program, altered schedules, and scaled back prescription drug and retirement benefits without bargaining, in violation of federal labor law. It claims Southwest should have collectively bargained with the union instead of giving itself “force majeure” rights when air travel plummeted during the pandemic.
► From the Washington Post — Airline employees took on new mission in Afghanistan conflict’s final days: Getting evacuees to the U.S. — United Airlines flight attendant Hope Williams recalled the mixture of fear, uncertainty, relief and hope on the faces of hundreds of Afghan evacuees on the day they boarded the Boeing 777-300 that would take them from Qatar to Germany, then on to the United States. She was part of a crew of more than a dozen United employees who volunteered to work on one of the first Afghan evacuee flights operated by the carrier. Williams said they tried to make those onboard feel comfortable, but it was clear the trauma of leaving Kabul was fresh. The stories they told and the bruises on their bodies brought tears to her eyes.
The Stand (Aug. 24) — How you can show solidarity with Afghan people here, abroad
► From Teamsters 117 — Teamster donates her kidney to 22-year Navy vet — Natalie Luvaas, a Teamster corrections officer and shop steward at SCORE jail, is the kind of person who instinctively dives into the frozen river to save a child or runs into the burning building. In a recent act of heroism, Natalie donated one of her kidneys to a 22-year Navy veteran. Donating a kidney to a sick family member or close friend is one thing, but in Natalie’s case, the recipient was someone she didn’t know. “I have always felt a strong respect and admiration for people who have dedicated their lives to our country,” she says with conviction… As she says, “With all of the loud negativity going on, I know a single person can be the change they want to see in this world.”
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.