NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Sunday, June 21st, 2020

COVID-19 Update: States grapple with rise in new coronavirus cases in rural communities

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.

Wash­ing­ton

On Wednes­day, June 17th, in response to the lat­est state rev­enue fore­cast, which antic­i­pates an $8.8 bil­lion drop in rev­enue over the next few years due to the coro­n­avirus-induced reces­sion, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee can­celed a sched­uled three per­cent pay raise for the state’s high­est paid gen­er­al employ­ees.

Inslee also decreed that that over 40,000 employ­ees would be required to take at least one fur­lough day per week through July 25th and one fur­lough day per month there­after through at least the fall of this year. He urged high­er edu­ca­tion insti­tu­tions, the state Leg­is­la­ture, courts and sep­a­rate­ly elect­ed offi­cials, all of which are not under his author­i­ty, to adopt sim­i­lar mea­sures.

On Thurs­day, June 18th, King Coun­ty joined more than twen­ty cities and coun­ties through­out the nation in declar­ing that racism was a pub­lic health cri­sis.

King Coun­ty was approved to move to Phase II of Gov­er­nor Inslee’s “Safe Start” reopen­ing plan on Fri­day, June 19th, despite an uptick in cas­es. Island, Lewis and Mason coun­ties were approved to move toward Phase III.

On the same day, the state Depart­ment of Health declared that, as of Wednes­day, June 17th, 43% of all cas­es of COVID-19 and 23% of all hos­pi­tal­iza­tions due to COVID-19 in the state had been con­tract­ed by Lati­nos and His­pan­ics, which make up only 13% of the state’s pop­u­la­tion.

Also on the same day, the Yaki­ma Health Dis­trict had had to trans­port twen­ty-two patients out of its area because they had exceed­ed staffing capac­i­ty, many of them ICU patients sent to Seat­tle area hos­pi­tals.

It also suf­fered over two hun­dred new cas­es of COVID-19 in one day; the sec­ond such event in June for Yaki­ma Coun­ty.

On Sat­ur­day, June 20th, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee declared in a press con­fer­ence that he would be issu­ing an order Mon­day that all Yaki­ma Coun­ty res­i­dents must wear face masks when out in pub­lic.

“It is a legal require­ment; it is not just a suggestion…It is required if we are going to pre­vent this dis­as­ter from over­tak­ing this beau­ti­ful val­ley.”

“This is, frankly, a des­per­ate sit­u­a­tion for pub­lic health, for our abil­i­ty to reopen Yaki­ma which we want to do, and for the health and safe­ty of the entire state of Wash­ing­ton, because as Yaki­ma Coun­ty goes, so goes the rest of the state.”

Gov­er­nor Inslee also made it clear to busi­ness­es with­in Yaki­ma Coun­ty to refuse ser­vice to any­one who refus­es to fol­low the law: “No mask, no ser­vice.”

Oth­er coun­ties with­in the state, such as Spokane Coun­ty, which has also seen a sig­nif­i­cant rise in cas­es, are begin­ning to won­der if they will be next. King Coun­ty has had a direc­tive to wear a face cov­er­ing in any pub­lic space where a per­son might be with­in six feet of some­one who does not live with them since May 18th.

Oregon

On Tues­day, June 16th, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown called the state Leg­is­la­ture in Salem into a spe­cial ses­sion, to start Wednes­day, June 24th.

While the pas­sage of police account­abil­i­ty leg­is­la­tion is the pri­ma­ry pur­pose of the spe­cial ses­sion, pass­ing into law spe­cif­ic poli­cies put into effect by Gov­er­nor Brown’s pre­vi­ous exec­u­tive orders will also be part of the pur­pose of the ses­sion.

Although not spec­i­fied, as Gov­er­nor Brown had men­tioned a pos­si­ble out­line for bud­get cuts as a result of COVID-19’s effect on the state econ­o­my as of Fri­day, June 19th, it’s also pos­si­ble that bud­get cuts could be con­sid­ered.

On Fri­day, June 19th, Mult­nom­ah Coun­ty, which includes the city of Port­land, was the last coun­ty in the state to be approved for Phase I of Gov­er­nor Kate Brown’s reopen­ing plan. On the same day, the Ore­gon Health Author­i­ty pub­lished a set of face cov­er­ing rules for peo­ple with­in indoor pub­lic spaces that must take effect in sev­en coun­ties: Clacka­mas, Hood Riv­er, Lin­coln, Mar­i­on, Mult­nom­ah, Polk and Wash­ing­ton (as of Wednes­day, June 24th).

As the Beaver State eas­es restric­tions, almost 20% of all cas­es of COVID-19 ever diag­nosed in the state hap­pened in the last week – over 1,373 peo­ple in the last eight days. Of those, two hun­dred and thir­ty-six cas­es were a result of an out­break among con­gre­gants at the Light­house Pen­te­costal Church in Island City.

Idaho

On June 5th, to counter the effects of per­ceived dis­in­cen­tives to return­ing to work via enhanced fed­er­al unem­ploy­ment and relat­ed COVID-19 ben­e­fits, Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle announced the Ida­ho Return to Work bonus pro­gram, which pro­vides up to $1,500 to full time employ­ees and up to $750 to part time employ­ees to return to work. After some appar­ent con­fu­sion, the state clar­i­fied the program’s specifics on Wednes­day, June 17th.

An ill­ness clus­ter that began with a group of approx­i­mate­ly ten bar hop­pers in Boise on June 5th or 6th has grown to almost one hun­dred cas­es of COVID-19 as of Sat­ur­day morn­ing, June 20th. Cen­tral Dis­trict Health, which cov­ers Ada Coun­ty, have met vir­tu­al­ly with a num­ber of bar own­ers in down­town Boise to deal with the issue, but not all are tak­ing the same course of action.

Some will make masks inside their estab­lish­ments manda­to­ry, some vol­un­tar­i­ly, and some bars will be closed for the fore­see­able future.

Ida­ho has declared more than one hun­dred diag­nosed cas­es of COVID-19 for three days run­ning – Thurs­day, June 18th, through Sat­ur­day, June 20th.

British Colum­bia

Due to an over­whelm­ing response after being re-opened May 14th, British Colum­bia closed its por­tion of the Peace Arch Park as of Thurs­day evening, June 18th. The park strad­dles the U.S.-Canadian bor­der at Blaine, Wash­ing­ton.

As of Sat­ur­day, June 20th, Cana­di­an Fed­er­al offi­cials will take full respon­si­bil­i­ty for bor­der con­trols with­in the province, accord­ing to Pre­mier John Hor­gan.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 28,849 cas­es and 1,257 attrib­ut­able deaths.

455,941 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ore­gon has had 6,750 cas­es and 189 attrib­ut­able deaths.

194,095 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ida­ho has had 4,006 cas­es and 89 attrib­ut­able deaths.

72,547 peo­ple have been test­ed.

British Colum­bia has had 2,790 cas­es and 168 attrib­ut­able deaths.

175,454 peo­ple have been test­ed.

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One Comment

  1. Please, please wear a mask when you’re out and about!

    # by Caitlyn McMaster :: June 26th, 2020 at 10:44 PM