NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, May 31st, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Pacific Northwest states gingerly move forward with reopening plans

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.


On Fri­day, May 29th, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee announced an expan­sion of the state’s reopen­ing pro­gram, dubbed “Safe Start,” along with the ces­sa­tion of the prin­ci­pal stay home, stay healthy order that was issued back in March (although a num­ber of relat­ed procla­ma­tions were extend­ed to June 17th).

As of Mon­day, June 1st, any coun­ty not in Phase I may apply to the state Sec­re­tary of Health to move to the next phase of the four-step plan beyond which they are cur­rent­ly set. Any coun­ty present­ly in Phase I would have to first apply for a “mod­i­fied” Phase I sta­tus, which allows some Phase II activ­i­ties, depen­dent on the sta­tus of the apply­ing county.

At present, twen­ty-six coun­ties in Wash­ing­ton state are at Phase II status.

Sno­homish Coun­ty Exec­u­tive Dave Somers will apply to move direct­ly into Phase II, in spite of Sno­homish Coun­ty’s poor test­ing and con­tact trac­ing num­bers and exces­sive num­ber of new dai­ly cas­es, mak­ing it less like­ly to qual­i­fy for Phase II than most oth­er coun­ties in the state.

Also announced by the Gov­er­nor were new statewide guide­lines regard­ing the use of face­masks in the work­place, effec­tive June 8th.

Dr. Ming Lin, a doc­tor fired in late March from St. Joseph Med­ical Cen­ter in Belling­ham for crit­i­ciz­ing the facility’s response to the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, filed a law­suit on Thurs­day, May 28th, against his for­mer employ­er.

The suit wrong­ful ter­mi­na­tion, breach of con­tract, dis­crim­i­na­tion, defama­tion and inflic­tion of emo­tion­al stress.


On Tues­day, May 26th, Bak­er Coun­ty Cir­cuit Court judge Matthew Shirt­cliff, in response to the Ore­gon state Supreme Court request­ing fur­ther expla­na­tion as to his rul­ing that Gov­er­nor Kate Brown’s stay at home order was no longer valid, or to allow for argu­ments by both sides to take place as part of a larg­er process, refused to vacate his May 18th deci­sion in a three sen­tence response.

The Ore­gon Depart­ment of Jus­tice and the group of church­es that are part of the request to vacate the stay at home order will instead argue their case before the state Supreme Court, which stayed Judge Shirtcliff’s deci­sion on May 18th.

The state Depart­ment of Jus­tice filed a brief with the Supreme Court on Thurs­day, May 28th, which focus­es on leg­isla­tive tes­ti­mo­ny from 2003, where the state’s then pub­lic health offi­cer described the pub­lic health emer­gency bill used as part of the stay at home order was an “addi­tion­al” tool to com­pli­ment, rather than replace, sep­a­rate emer­gency powers.

On Thurs­day, May 28th, Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty, imme­di­ate­ly south­west of the Port­land met­ro­pol­i­tan area, was approved to move toward Phase 1 of the Reopen­ing Ore­gon plan. This leaves Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty, which includes Port­land, as the only state not yet qual­i­fied for Phase 1 sta­tus. Wash­ing­ton Coun­ty was where the first case of COVID-19 was diag­nosed in Ore­gon on Feb­ru­ary 28th.

On Fri­day, May 31st, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown fired state Employ­ment Depart­ment direc­tor Kay Erick­son as a result of delays in the pro­cess­ing of appli­ca­tions for unem­ploy­ment and in the deliv­ery of unem­ploy­ment ben­e­fits to those who had lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. In 2009, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment gave the state more than $85 mil­lion to update the department’s IT infra­struc­ture, but most of that mon­ey is in a state trust fund and lit­tle has been done by the depart­ment to com­plete its task.


On May 22nd, fifty employ­ees at Rite Stuff Foods, a pota­to proces­sor in Jerome, and forty-five employ­ees at Ida-Beef, a slaugh­ter­house in Bur­ley, test­ed pos­i­tive for COVID-19. All employ­ees were test­ed at Rite Stuff in response, while only symp­to­matic employ­ees at Ida-Beef were test­ed at Minido­ka Memo­r­i­al Hospital.

The Ida-Beef facil­i­ty has been closed until at least June 1st due to a “staffing short­age.” Both cas­es were con­firmed by the Ida­ho South Cen­tral Pub­lic Health Dis­trict on Tues­day, May 26th.

Almost all of the employ­ees affect­ed iden­ti­fy as Lati­no or His­pan­ic.

On May 28th, Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle decid­ed to ini­ti­ate Phase III of his state reopen­ing plan, Ida­ho Rebounds, which start­ed on Sat­ur­day, May 30th.

Bars and movie the­aters will be allowed to open.

When asked about the lat­ter, Gov­er­nor Lit­tle replied “I would much rather start some­thing a lit­tle ear­li­er than have to delay things to a lat­er point in time.”

That same day, by a 2–1 vote, the Bon­ner Coun­ty board of Com­mis­sion­ers passed a procla­ma­tion oppos­ing Phase II of the Ida­ho Rebounds reopen­ing plan, stat­ing that it is too broad in scope and too ambigu­ous, thus unconstitutional.

In their con­clu­sion, they state that “this order’s overuti­liza­tion-pre­ven­tion and trans­mis­sion-pre­ven­tion objec­tives are uncon­sti­tu­tion­al and repli­cate meth­ods used in com­mand-and-con­trol soci­eties such as China.”

On Sat­ur­day, May 29th, the Ida­ho States­man news­pa­per sent a let­ter to the Ida­ho Depart­ment of Health and Wel­fare, threat­en­ing to sue the depart­ment if records regard­ing coro­n­avirus out­breaks in nurs­ing home and long term care facil­i­ties aren’t made avail­able. The depart­ment refused a pub­lic records request made by the States­man on May 21st. Nev­er­the­less, the States­man believes it has con­firmed the names of four­teen facil­i­ties that have had COVID-19 out­breaks, and that as many as twen­ty-two facil­i­ties have had outbreaks.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 22,471 cas­es and 1,126 attrib­ut­able deaths.

360,899 peo­ple have been tested.

Ore­gon has had 4,253 cas­es and 153 attrib­ut­able deaths.

129,201 peo­ple have been tested.

Ida­ho has had 2,839 cas­es and 82 attrib­ut­able deaths.

46,697 peo­ple have been tested.

British Colum­bia has had 2,562 cas­es and 164 attrib­ut­able deaths.

141,392 peo­ple have been tested.

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One Comment

  1. We need to reopen safe­ly. Every­one should be wear­ing a mask when they go out, full stop. Don’t under­stand why there are peo­ple who want to put them­selves in dan­ger by not wear­ing one. 

    # by Jual Alat Kesehatan :: June 18th, 2020 at 7:22 AM
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