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.

Thursday, August 26th, 2021

COVID-19 Update: Vaccine mandates ramp up as nation feels the strain from delta variant

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 August 18th, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee rein­stat­ed a statewide mask require­ment for shared indoor spaces, effec­tive August 23rd, and ordered that all edu­ca­tors must receive the COVID-19 vac­cine in order to gain or retain their employ­ment. This hap­pened after Sno­homish Coun­ty announced a mask man­date on August 12th, and as Pierce and King Coun­ties were announc­ing their own mask mandates.

State require­ments were clar­i­fied and fur­ther expand­ed upon August 20th through two amend­ments to exist­ing procla­ma­tions — 20.25 (“Wash­ing­ton Ready”) and 21.14 (“Covid Vac­ci­na­tion Require­ment”).

Accom­pa­ny­ing a require­ment on August 9th that most state work­ers, on-site con­trac­tors and vol­un­teers to be vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19 as a con­di­tion of employ­ment before Octo­ber 18th, Wash­ing­ton State present­ly has among the strictest mea­sures in the Unit­ed States. The action was tak­en in response to the lat­est surge in Covid-19 cas­es and a short­fall of health­care workers.

“More than 95% of the COVID hos­pi­tal­iza­tions we see today are among the unvac­ci­nat­ed,” said Inslee; “And it is heart-rend­ing for us to see los­ing our neigh­bors, our co-work­ers, our stu­dents to a pre­ventable disease.”

On August 24th, King Coun­ty declared itself the first large coun­ty in the Unit­ed States, with over three mil­lion shots admin­is­tered, to have had more than sev­en­ty per­cent of all age groups age twelve and old­er, and across all racial and eth­nic groups, receive at least one dose of COVID-19.

On the evening of August 24th, at a meet­ing of the Franklin Coun­ty Com­mis­sion,  Com­mis­sion­er Clint Didi­er and a num­ber of cit­i­zens in the audi­ence refused to wear masks in response to the rein­state­ment of the statewide mask requirement.

Franklin Coun­ty Pros­e­cu­tor Shawn Sant explained to the com­mis­sion­ers that refusal to wear masks at the meet­ing could result in a law­suit by the state and could result in the meet­ing being declared “ille­gal,” which could void any actions tak­en at the meet­ing. When Com­mis­sion­er Didi­er declared that he would still refuse to com­ply, Com­mis­sion­er Brad Peck left the meet­ing, and a num­ber of items on the agen­da were not act­ed upon.

As of August 25th, 1,463 COVID-19 patients are cur­rent­ly hos­pi­tal­ized, one of the high­est hos­pi­tal­iza­tion rates since the start of the pandemic.

Approx­i­mate­ly 1,100 of those cas­es have come in the last thir­ty days. Over 94% of the cas­es involved are from unvac­ci­nat­ed individuals.

Health­care offi­cials in Yaki­ma, Spokane and Van­cou­ver have each tried to pre­pare for a fur­ther surge in cas­es and have request­ed help from their local gen­er­al pub­lic. How­ev­er, the city of Van­cou­ver has no plans, as of August 25th, to man­date vac­cine require­ments for their employees.

Oregon

On August 24th, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown announced a mask man­date for con­certs, ath­let­ic events and pub­lic places that bring peo­ple togeth­er in close prox­im­i­ty, to take effect on Fri­day, August 27th.

“The Delta vari­ant is spread­ing fast and wide, throw­ing our state into a lev­el of cri­sis we have not yet seen in the pan­dem­ic. Cas­es and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions are at a record high,” said Gov­er­nor Brown.

“Masks are a quick and sim­ple tool we can imme­di­ate­ly deploy to pro­tect our­selves and our fam­i­lies, and quick­ly help stop fur­ther spread of COVID-19.”

Masks are already required in all indoor pub­lic settings.

East­ern Ore­gon Uni­ver­si­ty, which had pre­vi­ous­ly been con­sid­er­ing vac­ci­na­tions as not manda­to­ry for stu­dents or employ­ees, decid­ed lat­er this sum­mer to require proof of COVID-19 vac­ci­na­tion or a valid exemp­tion for the upcom­ing fall, depen­dent on FDA approval of at least one of the coro­n­avirus vaccines.

With the FDA’s offi­cial approval of the Pfiz­er Covid vac­cine on August 23rd, the dead­line for being vac­ci­nat­ed or to have received a legit­i­mate exemp­tion from the uni­ver­si­ty will be near the end of October.

As in Wash­ing­ton State, Ore­gon’s hos­pi­tal resources are at the break­ing point, espe­cial­ly in south­west Ore­gon, with over 1,100 hos­pi­tal­ized statewide, 93% of is avail­able ICU beds in use and 85% of all hos­pi­tal­ized due to being unvaccinated.

Idaho

On August 12th, Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle redi­rect­ed $30 mil­lion toward expand­ing COVID test­ing in pri­ma­ry and sec­ondary schools through­out Idaho.

This is hap­pen­ing in response to a spike in cas­es of the delta vari­ant among chil­dren and a refusal ear­li­er this year by Repub­li­cans in the state Leg­is­la­ture to use $40 mil­lion in fed­er­al coro­n­avirus relief funds for vol­un­tary test­ing in pub­lic and pri­vate schools. (For a more in-depth dis­cus­sion of these events, check out our first and sec­ond PNWcur­rents episodes, which can be played on demand.)

Around thir­teen school dis­tricts with­in the state of Ida­ho have declared mask man­dates, but there are also those like the West Ada School Dis­trict, which includes pub­lic schools in Merid­i­an, Eagle, Star and west­ern Boise, and which has received hun­dreds of exemp­tion appli­ca­tions from par­ents. (Teach­ers and staff with­in the school dis­trict are not required to be vaccinated.)

One school, Rock­ford Ele­men­tary, part of the Snake Riv­er School Dis­trict in east­ern Ida­ho, has returned to remote learn­ing after a week of in-per­son classes.

As in Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon, Ida­ho’s hos­pi­tal resources are at the break­ing point, such that statewide care rationing is now being considered.

British Colum­bia

On August 24th, the provin­cial health min­istry declared its inten­tion to imple­ment a vac­cine card pol­i­cy. As of Sep­tem­ber 13th, any­one who wish­es to enter a sport­ing event, night­club, restau­rant, play­house or movie the­ater will need to show gov­ern­ment-pro­vid­ed proof of hav­ing received at least one COVID vac­ci­na­tion.  As of Octo­ber 24th, they will be required to be ful­ly vac­ci­nat­ed.  The sole excep­tion will be for chil­dren under twelve years of age. The response from the pub­lic has been imme­di­ate, with a surge in peo­ple seek­ing vaccinations.

Con­cur­rent with this new pol­i­cy are new rules regard­ing masks in ele­men­tary and sec­ondary schools with­in the province, which had last been updat­ed in June and antic­i­pat­ed a sit­u­a­tion not affect­ed by the Delta vari­ant of Covid. Stu­dents in fourth grade and up will be required to wear masks along with all staff, while masks will be strong­ly rec­om­mend­ed but not manda­to­ry for younger children.

Also con­cur­rent with this new pol­i­cy are new rules regard­ing masks and vac­ci­na­tion require­ments with­in post-sec­ondary institutions.

Pre­vi­ous­ly, vac­ci­na­tions were avail­able on cam­pus­es but not required.

The new pol­i­cy will require manda­to­ry vac­ci­na­tions for those liv­ing in res­i­dences on cam­pus, but stu­dents in class­rooms will only be required to wear a mask, not to be vac­ci­nat­ed.  This is upset­ting a num­ber of instruc­tors and pro­fes­sors, who are refus­ing to teach in-per­son classes.

The hard, cold numbers (plus vaccinations)

Wash­ing­ton has had 544,843 cas­es and 6,508 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-sev­enth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

The state has the forty-fifth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

9,364,371 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 10,287,035
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 9,379,363 (91.18%)

Ore­gon has had 263,164 cas­es and 3,086 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-eighth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

The state has the forty-sev­enth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

6,176,587 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 6,059,845
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 4,907,139 (80.98%)

Ida­ho has had 216,061 cas­es and 2,316 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the twen­ty-sixth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

The state has the forty-sec­ond worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

1,564,039 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 1,965,020
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 1,440,247 (73.29%)

British Colum­bia has had 161,969 cas­es and 1,802 attrib­ut­able deaths.

3,472,991 tests have been recorded.

British Colum­bia has the sixth worst infec­tion rate and the sixth worth death rate among the thir­teen Cana­di­an provinces and ter­ri­to­ries per hun­dred thou­sand pop­u­la­tion. (If it were an Amer­i­can state, it would be fifty-third and fifty-third, respec­tive­ly, out of fifty-three.)

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the province: 7,783,000
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 7,369,741 (94.69%)

That does it for this install­ment of COVID-19 Update. Stay safe and well!

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