Auburn Council criminalizes camping on city property
The Auburn City Council voted April 19 to institute a criminal penalty for anyone living outside on city property. People experiencing homelessness found guilty of camping in parks or on sidewalks could face up to $1,000 in fines and/or 90 days in jail — penalties that critics say would effectively criminalize homelessness without addressing its causes. The decision comes at the heels of a camping ban passed by the Mercer Island City Council in February.
Last September, the Auburn Council voted to remove their city’s criminal penalty for camping, electing instead to institute a $250 civil penalty. Monday’s vote effectively reverses September’s decision.
The criminal penalty will apply only in cases where local shelter space and public transportation to a shelter farther away is unavailable. Those in favor of the decision hope to encourage unhoused people to accept services, but Johnathan Hemphill — a member of the Lived Experience Coalition, which is a group of advocates who have experienced homelessness and serve on the Regional Homlessness Authority — told The Seattle Times he thinks that many who reject services do so out of a lack of trust. Hemphill also worries that this law could have a “domino effect” throughout the U.S., leading to further criminalization.
J&J vaccine pause
The Washington Department of Health joined other states and paused administering the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine April 13 “out of an abundance of caution” after six women, outside of Washington, who received the vaccine developed rare and serious brain blood clots. There was one fatality, and another woman remains in critical condition.
Two cases have been added since the Washington action: a man who was vaccinated during the J&J clinical trials and a woman who received it through authorized general use.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration in a joint statement recommended states pause the J&J vaccine and asked doctors to increase attention on the potential risk of vaccine side effects.
DOH recommends that anyone who received the J&J vaccine consult their doctor if they develop a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks of vaccination.
Pausing the only single-dose vaccine has vastly impacted COVID-19 vaccine access, especially for people who are housebound or unhoused or in hard-to-reach places, such as rural areas.
The CDC’s independent vaccine advisory panel will meet April 23 and is expected to comment on whether administering the vaccine should continue.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have been administered in the U.S., and 160,000 doses of it have been administered in Washington.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said people who have appointments for the J&J vaccine with the city will be given the Pfizer vaccine.
Sounders ticket fiasco rough start for sports fans
The Seattle Sounders opened ticket sales to their 30,000 ticket holders April 13, but the day didn’t go as planned. The sales were for the first five games of the immi- nent season, giving 30,000 ticket holders a shot at 7,000 seats per game, in line with Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID Phase 3 allow- ance. Lumen Field, where the team plays, can hold over 69,000 attendees.
A confusing email from the Football Club and web errors from Ticketmaster caused fans to wait in long virtual lines with little chance of getting the sought- after game tickets.
An errant 8 a.m. email said tickets were on sale right then, three hours ahead of schedule, leading thousands of fans to flood Ticketmaster and find error messages that redirected them in a fruitless loop.
Though the 2021 Sounders had a rocky virtual start, they dominated Lumen Field in a season-opening, 4-0 win against Min- nesota United.
Christy Carley is a freelance journalist in Seattle and former English teacher in Spain. Find her on Twitter @christy_carley.
Read more of the Apr. 21-27, 2021 issue.