We are at ‘half time’ in the pandemic
State health officials urged caution around COVID-19 in a press conference at the end of December. While there has been a slight decrease in positive tests, the state is still seeing the highest rate of cases since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Dr. Scott Lindquist, state epidemiologist for communicable diseases.
Umair Shah, state secretary of health, compared the pandemic to a football game in which Washington is at “half time” and urged people to continue following safety precautions.
Healthcare workers and staff and residents at long-term care facilities are receiving the vaccine and will receive their second doses next week.
Officials are closely monitoring a new COVID-19 variant strain that was first reported in the United Kingdom and has been found in Colorado. The strain is more contagious than the previous one. While it hasn’t been found in Washington yet, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin said on Twitter that it likely will be and could already exist undetected.
The new strain likely doesn’t lead to more severe cases of the illness, and the vaccines will probably be effective against it, Lindquist said in the news conference.
Gov. Inslee extended a statewide ban on indoor dining by one week, lasting until Jan. 11. He has also extended the moratorium on evictions through March 31.
Attorney General, tribes join federal lawsuit over National Archives sale
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is launching a lawsuit against the federal government’s decision to sell a 10-acre site in Sand Point Way that contains the National Archives in Seattle. The government’s plan, announced in January 2020, is to move the millions of boxes of records to facilities in Missouri and California. Historians denounced the decision, saying it would cut off their and the public’s access to these records, only a tiny fraction of which are digitized. The records date from the 1840s and include historical records from Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska, including tribal history and records of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
Joining Ferguson’s lawsuit are the state of Oregon; 29 federally-recognized tribes and non-recognized tribal communities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska; nine community organizations; historic preservation societies and museums.
The lawsuit alleges that the federal Public Buildings Reform Board’s expedited sale of the facility “violates the conditions Congress placed on agencies’ ability to sell federal properties on an expedited basis and fails to appropriately account for the records’ importance to the Pacific Northwest region,” according to a news release from Ferguson’s office.
Read more in the Jan. 6-12, 2021 issue.