Wednesday, January 5, 2022
► From the Spokesman-Review — Already-stretched local hospitals brace for more COVID hospitalizations as local cases surge — Local hospitals are bracing for another surge of COVID-19 patients with Spokane on Tuesday nearly breaking its record for new daily cases. Statewide, coronavirus hospitalizations are already increasing. As of Monday, there were 1,215 COVID patients being treated in hospitals statewide, more than 400 additional COVID patients than there were just a week ago. Hospital occupancy statewide is more than 91%, but this means some hospitals are at capacity while others have some room.
► From the (Everett) Herald — Providence pauses non-emergency procedures and visitation — In the past week, the Everett hospital’s two campuses have seen in-patient numbers more than double.
► From KOMO — Children make up over two-thirds of COVID-19 cases in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties — In King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, children – from infants up to 19-year-olds, make up 69 percent of all recent cases of COVID-19. Right now — vaccination rates for young kids are stunningly low in Washington. The State Health Department said only 20 percent of kids aged 5-11 are fully vaccinated.
► From The Guardian — COVID hospitalizations among U.S. children soar as schools under pressure — An average of 672 children were being hospitalized every day in the US, as of Jan. 2 — more than double the average just a week before. And the rate is rapidly increasing. Experts are urging the use of every possible precaution, including tests, masks, vaccinations and even temporary delays in reopening schools to curb both cases and staff shortages.
► From the AP — Chicago cancels classes after union backs remote learning — Leaders of Chicago Public Schools canceled classes Wednesday after the teachers union voted to switch to remote learning due to the surge in COVID-19 cases, the latest development in an escalating battle over pandemic safety protocols in the nation’s third-largest school district.
Let’s be clear here regarding Chicago schools- No one wants schools closed. Educators want to be in the classroom with students, where they learn best. We do that through working together to roll out testing, masking, and vaccination—and most major districts have done it.
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) January 5, 2022
► From The Hill — More than 600 teachers, school staff absent in San Francisco
► From Politico — Thousands of teachers, students absent as Omicron ravages Florida
ALSO from The Stand (Oct. 19, 2021) — WSLC updates position on vaccine mandates — Washington State Labor Council: Workers must have a voice in vaccine mandates and their consequences.
► From the Seattle Times — State Democrats propose delaying WA Cares payroll tax until 2023 — State Democratic lawmakers have filed bills to delay the payroll tax that funds WA Cares until July 2023, and allow more people to opt-out of Washington’s first-of-its-kind long-term care program. The legislation comes after months of critiques by opponents and questions from state residents over the new program, which is styled as a social insurance program and is funded by a .58% payroll tax on workers.
► From the AP — Council delays appointing Sen. Ericksen’s replacement
► From the Seattle Times — Advanced RN practitioners deserve equitable reimbursement (by Dr. Benjamin Danielson) — The more than 6,000 ARNPs across this state provide every aspect of health care, spanning primary care, anesthesiology, midwifery, mental health and more. Health insurers have arbitrarily reduced reimbursement for ARNP services down to just 85% of their usual rates. Passing state Sen. Emily Randall’s “same reimbursement for same service” legislation is a crucial part of improving access to primary care and mental health care.
► From the Tri-City Herald — Longtime, beloved Tri-Cities teacher, past union president dies — Jocelyn “Joce” Berriochoa, 72, of Pasco, died on Dec. 31 after a short bout with pneumonia. She taught art for three decades at Park Middle School in Kennewick, and later served her colleagues as president of the Kennewick Education Association, the teachers union for the Kennewick School District. She served from 1996 to 1997.
► From Roll Call — Senate inches toward rules showdown over voting rights legislation — Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday reiterated his commitment for the Senate to consider, no later than Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 17, a rules changes that would clear the path for a majority to approve voting rights legislation. He said it was clear that given opposition from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) there would be no path that would get the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster under the current rules.
► From the AFL-CIO (Oct. 21, 2021) — To save American democracy, Senate must be democratized — AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler: “It is absolutely wrong that a minority of senators have the power to block the expressed will of the people, whether it’s voting rights, workplace democracy or a path to citizenship for those who live and work here. To save American democracy, we need democracy in the U.S. Senate.”
► From NPR — Here’s where election-denying candidates are running to control voting — An NPR analysis of 2022 secretary of state races across the country found at least 15 Republican candidates running who question the legitimacy of President Biden’s 2020 win, even though no evidence of widespread fraud has been uncovered about the race over the last 14 months. In fact, claims of any sort of fraud that swung the election have been explicitly refuted in state after state, including those run by Republicans.
► From The Hill — Biden to restart talks with Manchin after ‘cooling off’ period — Senate Democrats on Tuesday say they expect President Biden to restart talks with holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) after a “cooling off” period that will extend until the Senate finishes debate on voting rights legislation and rules reform.
► From CNBC — Ford plans to nearly double production of its new all-electric F-150 Lightning pickup — Ford on Tuesday said it plans to nearly double annual production capacity of its upcoming electric F-150 pickup to 150,000 vehicles per year at a plant in Michigan, citing strong customer demand.
► From The Hill — Private payrolls gained 807K workers in December — U.S. businesses added 807,000 jobs in December despite the emergence of the Omicron variant, according to data released Wednesday by payroll processor ADP, far exceeding expectations.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.