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.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2020

COVID-19 Update: Business, social activities restricted as region struggles to combat virus

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 Thurs­day, July 23rd, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee announced a num­ber of changes to the statewide “Safe Start” reopen­ing plan, which were fur­ther clar­i­fied on July 28th. As of July 25th, face masks are required in all com­mon spaces.

As of July 30th, din­ing inside restau­rants is only allowed for mem­bers of the same house­hold, and for those coun­ties in Phase III of the reopen­ing plan, no par­ty may be larg­er that five indi­vid­u­als. Occu­pan­cy with­in restau­rants will be reduced from 75% to 50%, and gam­ing and social areas with such items as pool tables, dart boards and video games are to be closed for the time being.

Out­door din­ing and take-away remains avail­able for small par­ties from dif­fer­ent house­holds. Bars may remain open for out­door ser­vice, but may no longer have indoor ser­vice. Alco­hol may be served in restau­rants until 10 PM.

For coun­ties in Phase II, fit­ness cen­ters may have no more than five peo­ple using a giv­en facil­i­ty at any one time. For coun­ties in Phase III, no fit­ness cen­ter may have more than 25% occu­pan­cy. No fit­ness class may have more than ten par­tic­i­pants, not includ­ing the instruc­tor.

As of August 6th, wed­dings and funer­als are to be no more than at 20% of pos­si­ble occu­pan­cy or no more than thir­ty peo­ple present, whichev­er is less. Recep­tions for either cer­e­mo­ny are pro­hib­it­ed.

Gov­er­nor Inslee also extend­ed the evic­tion mora­to­ri­um to Octo­ber 15th.

That same day, the Wash­ing­ton State Supreme Court upheld Gov­er­nor Inslee’s deci­sions regard­ing under what cir­cum­stances and how many inmates may be released from prison as a result of the local COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

On that same day, the Wash­ing­ton Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion released a state­ment  oppos­ing the resump­tion of in-per­son learn­ing for the com­ing school year.

“[W]e can­not respon­si­bly sup­port a return to school build­ings for in-per­son learn­ing this fall.  We call on Gov­er­nor Inslee to con­tin­ue lead­ing with sci­ence and safe­ty and declare that schools will open remote­ly this fall,” WEA said.

On Fri­day, July 24th, Judge Ben­jamin H. Set­tle of the Unit­ed States Dis­trict Court for the West­ern Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton reject­ed two requests filed on May 5th and May 18th, respec­tive­ly, for injunc­tions that would reverse the emer­gency orders put into place by Gov­er­nor Inslee to com­bat the pan­dem­ic.

Set­tle held that in both cas­es, while Gov­er­nor Inslee issued the relat­ed procla­ma­tions, oth­er offi­cials were respon­si­ble for their enforce­ment.

Set­tle, whose court­room is based in Taco­ma, also found that there was no evi­dence that these procla­ma­tions were in of them­selves uncon­sti­tu­tion­al acts.

Set­tle’s rul­ing left polit­i­cal scam­mer and Repub­li­can guber­na­to­r­i­al can­di­date Tim Eyman (a plain­tiff in one of the suits) fum­ing.

While Set­tle was hand­ing down in his rul­ing, Wash­ing­ton’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son was suing the fed­er­al Edu­ca­tion Depart­ment (present­ly under the con­trol of Bet­sy DeVos) over CARES Act fund­ing, request­ing a pre­lim­i­nary injunc­tion to block DeVos’ plans for the dis­tri­b­u­tion of the funds.

In hap­pi­er news, the recent­ly formed Wash­ing­ton Dream Coali­tion has raised $5.2 mil­lion and con­tin­ues to inter­est poten­tial finan­cial part­ners in their goal of pro­vid­ing finan­cial assis­tance to new Amer­i­cans who have been immoral­ly exclud­ed from pub­licly fund­ed relief ini­tia­tives.

And it’s very much need­ed in a state where 13% of the pop­u­la­tion is Hispanic/Lantinx, but has been afflict­ed with 44% of con­firmed cas­es of COVID-19, the nov­el coro­n­avirus. Some res­i­dents in Yaki­ma Coun­ty are using artis­tic rep­re­sen­ta­tion to tell the sto­ry of their com­mu­ni­ty’s suf­fer­ing.

On Tues­day, July 28th, The Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Health released its lat­est statewide sit­u­a­tion report, which con­firms increas­ing spread of the virus in West­ern Wash­ing­ton and a high spread of in Eastern/Central Wash­ing­ton.

Oregon

On Wednes­day, July 22nd, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown announced that as of July 24th, mask wear­ing require­ments for indoor areas would apply to chil­dren five years of age and old­er. Brown also reduced the max­i­mum num­ber of peo­ple who can gath­er in an indoor space, includ­ing bars and restau­rants, from two hun­dred and fifty to one hun­dred. Bars and restau­rants in coun­ties in Phase II of the reopen­ing process have also been direct­ed to close down by 10 PM.

While a num­ber of urban school dis­tricts in Ore­gon are con­sid­er­ing remote learn­ing for most to all of their class­es, rur­al school dis­tricts are focus­ing on in-per­son instruc­tion as at least part of their instruc­tion for the com­ing school year.

Com­pared to the WEA in Wash­ing­ton, the Ore­gon Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion’s views on resum­ing in per­son learn­ing are slight­ly dif­fer­ent.

Even so, Ore­gon offi­cials have estab­lished a more con­crete require­ment: Ore­gon coun­ties must have few­er than ten cas­es per 100,000 peo­ple for three weeks straight before in-per­son class­es may resume.

On Tues­day, July 28th, a record four­teen deaths were con­firmed with­in the state from COVID-19. On Thurs­day, July 30th, to com­bat a short­age of tests and test com­po­nents, a new test using sali­va spit into a tube will be imple­ment­ed.

Idaho

On Tues­day, July 21st, East­ern Ida­ho Pub­lic Health’s board of Direc­tors, in a unan­i­mous vote, made wear­ing masks in pub­lic in Bon­neville Coun­ty manda­to­ry. All events of more than one hun­dred and fifty peo­ple are now pro­hib­it­ed as well.

On July 13th, nurse prac­ti­tion­er Saman­tha Hick­ey died from car­diac com­pli­ca­tions result­ing from being infect­ed with COVID-19.

On Wednes­day, July 22nd, Repub­li­can state leg­is­la­tor Tam­my Nichols shared a Face­book post ques­tion­ing the cause of her death. This quick­ly drew fire from Hick­ey’s cowork­ers and employ­er, St. Luke’s Hos­pi­tal in Cald­well.

There were five hun­dred and twen­ty-eight new cas­es of COVID-19 on Fri­day, July 24th, five hun­dred and six­ty-three new cas­es  on Sat­ur­day, July 25th, five hun­dred and sev­en­teen new cas­es on Mon­day, July 27th and five hun­dred and twen­ty-eight new cas­es on Tues­day, July 28th.

Boise State Uni­ver­si­ty has lift­ed a require­ment of manda­to­ry test­ing for every stu­dent to live on its cam­pus because not enough tests are avail­able.

They will instead ask stu­dents to take a COVID-19 test in their home­towns — if they are avail­able — before mov­ing into cam­pus hous­ing.

British Colum­bia

On Wednes­day, July 22nd, in response to the recent spike in cas­es, provin­cial health offi­cer Dr. Bon­nie Hen­ry announced new pub­lic health mea­sures.

All patrons in restau­rants, bars and night­clubs will be required to be seat­ed, no groups larg­er than six allowed at restau­rants, alco­hol will only be avail­able at table and not at a bar, and dance floors will be closed. She also made a point or request­ing that peo­ple’s “bub­bles,” or groups of peo­ple with­in which they inter­act and not out­side it, to lim­it spread of COVID-19, be kept small.

A new Can­tonese pop song about the pan­dem­ic, with lyrics penned by a Uni­ver­si­ty of British Colum­bia music stu­dent, hit dig­i­tal streams this past week.

Restau­ra­teurs are ask­ing patrons for patience and to fol­low rules regard­ing capac­i­ty, wear­ing masks and phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing as the pan­dem­ic frays nerves.

A province-wide plan for return­ing chil­dren to schools will be pre­sent­ed on Wednes­day, July 29th. There have been delays in pre­sent­ing the plan large­ly to account more read­i­ly for the evolv­ing sit­u­a­tion regard­ing the pan­dem­ic with­in the province, and also to account for the most like­ly sce­nario this fall, which might include a “sec­ond wave” with an addi­tion­al con­cur­rent influen­za out­break.

The hard, cold numbers

Wash­ing­ton state has had 55,434 cas­es and 1,526 attrib­ut­able deaths.

933,304 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ore­gon has had 17,416 cas­es and 303 attrib­ut­able deaths.

386,786 peo­ple have been test­ed.

Ida­ho has had 19,222 cas­es and 160 attrib­ut­able deaths.

171,892 peo­ple have been test­ed.

British Colum­bia has had 3,523 cas­es and 194 attrib­ut­able deaths.

255,728 peo­ple have been test­ed.​

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