Sat, Sep 25, 2021
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Inslee: State facing urgent crises

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Through Sunday, another 549 coronavirus cases and no new deaths were confirmed in Washington, bringing the total number of diagnoses to 63,072, including 1,688 deaths, according to the state DOH. Data reporting issues have prevented the state from recording new negative tests results for more than a week now. The U.S. has officially recorded more than 162,000 deaths and 5 million cases of COVID-19, just 17 days after reaching 4 million cases, but experts agree the number of cases is actually much greater - potentially 10 times higher than what's been reported, according to federal data.

Trump Fails on Stimulus

Last Friday, Gov. Inslee said, "We are facing an urgent economic and public health crisis that demands immediate congressional action and leadership from the Trump administration. Millions of Americans are unable to work, put food on the table and pay their bills. Nearly 450,000 Washingtonians saw their $600 pandemic unemployment benefit terminate two weeks ago. Senate Republicans and the Trump administration have refused to act on sweeping legislation passed by the House of Representatives nearly three months ago.

Trump issued an Executive Order on his stimulus plan which many experts termed illegal and unconstitutional.

Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities

Gov. Inslee announced guidance that allows long-term care facilities to offer visitation and other activities. Many long-term care facilities were forced to curtail social activities for residents and visitors earlier this year due to COVID-19. It does not constitute an immediate reopening of all long-term care facilities, however. The plan goes into effect August 12, and even after it becomes effective, individual facilities must meet additional parameters before re-opening.
"We must continue to be thoughtful and deliberate in our actions, conscious of the even more devastating impacts this virus could have if we lose control of its spread, especially in facilities with our most vulnerable populations," Inslee said Thursday.

Seattle City Hall Protest

A rally organized by Seattle's police union drew a large crowd of pro-police demonstrators and a smaller group of counter protesters to City Hall on Sunday. Police supporters called on the City Council to defend the Police Department, while counter protesters derided the rally as "a front for far-right politics."

DOH Recommendations

Gov. Inslee announced new recommendations from the Washington State Department of Health for resuming in-person instruction in public and private K-12 education for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

"We know the uncertainty surrounding school reopening is a source of extraordinary anxiety for parents and educators -- anxiety not just about whether it's safe to go back to school in person, but also about the impacts to children if they don't return to the classroom," Inslee said.

The plan includes several different considerations for deciding whether or not to return to in-person learning, but no matter the county, when COVID-19 infection rates are high, the state strongly recommends school districts move to mostly online or remote learning.

In recent months, politicians, county and public health officials have grappled with difficult questions around equity: Why are cases so high among the Latino population and how can the positive rate of infection be reduced?

High COVID-19 Rates for Latinos

Contributing factors such as poverty, housing discrimination, system inequities within public health care, and proximity to food deserts underlie the high rate of COVID-19 cases within King County's Latino population, said Fernando Luna, interim deputy director of Seattle-based nonprofit Entre Hermanos, which focuses on the well-being of the Latino LGBTQ community. Essential workers in the service industry or construction who live in multigenerational housing have difficulty physically isolating if they become infected, he added.

Largest Fraud in State History

Revelations that Washington state's $576 million unemployment fraud started much earlier than previously acknowledged are fueling a storm of new questions over the handling of the crime. Some point to the "under-reaction" of the Employment Security Department. Here's what we know.

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