Hello, Chase here, Keeper of the Slog. Good news! Tomorrow is Friday, a day that still feels special even though there's nothing particularly special about it. Later in this post, Christopher will pop in to give you a little update about some innovative shower curtains, and then Nathalie will jump in for some fresh Inslee news that involves a place called Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff & Pett's. Away we go... (Anyone ever see that movie with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph?)
Washington state will halt unemployment payments for two days while the state investigates a "gush" of fraudulent claims, reports the Seattle Times. The state Employment Security Department told the Times that the number of fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits jumped 27 fold between March and April.
Bleak: A forecast by OpenTable predicts that one-quarter of American restaurants won’t reopen.
Washington Rep. Matt Shea, noted supporter of terror, has been fined $5,000 for recently "intentionally [pouring] a trail of olive oil along the steps of a Capitol building*, causing more than $4,700 in damages," reports the Seattle Times.
As we mentioned in Slog AM, Rick Bright gave testimony to Congress today. The ousted former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority warned Congress that a vaccine might take longer than 12 to 18 months, that "there were some attempts to bypass" a vetting process for hydroxychloroquine, and other concerning details.
Also: I'd like to know! For the history books!
is rick bright gay
— Chase Burns (@chaseburnsy) May 15, 2020
How do we describe Americans' inability to agree on facts? Jennifer Kavanagh, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation, calls the phenomenon "truth decay." I sorta like it. A natural byproduct of post-truth politics.
The bars are packed in Wisconsin: Select cheeseheads rushed to fill bars after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state's extended stay-home order. Good luck, Sconnies.
Some hairdressers petition to reopen... later: Most of Washington state is still in Phase 1 of Inslee's four-phased reopening plan. When we get to Phase 2, which is expected to happen for most of the state around the beginning of June, hairdressers will be allowed to reopen with additional safety precautions and procedures. But some hairdressers want to push their opening back to Phase 4, when places like nightclubs will be allowed to reopen: "My dad is an ER nurse and he is working closely with this,” one hairdresser told KOMO. “I don’t think I should have to work as a hair stylist wearing the same equipment that my dad is wearing.”
You can find their petition, which now has over 5,000 digital signatures, here.
Vice interviewed the general manager of the last Blockbuster on Earth. I love this detail:
"The big title for next week is Call of the Wild," she told VICE. "I usually start out with 30 [copies] on DVD, and 12 to 14 Blu-Ray. I'll go to Walmart, Target, Fred Meyer, every retailer we have here in town, and I'll only get five or 10 from each one. They don't like me very much if I come in and just wipe out their shelves, so I try to be conscientious of that, and make sure that I leave movies for their regular customers as well."
There's always a strange romancing of Blockbuster: Romance Scarecrow Video, you dorks. I haven't confirmed, but I'm almost certain they don't buy their DVDs from Walmart.
Beep bloop: Time for an update from Christopher Frizzelle about something he spotted this morning.
QFC hangs shower curtains between self-checkout machines: A checker at the North Broadway QFC told a customer this afternoon that he was just as surprised as anyone about the shower curtains now hanging between the self-checkout machines. “I walked in this morning and I’m like, ’Dude, what?’” A bagger next to him said, “Same.”
The decision came from Kroger, which owns QFC. That’s all they knew. So The Stranger called the store to speak with someone who knew more. The first employee we spoke to didn’t know anything, but said she knew who would. The person she then directed us to talk to said, “I don’t know too much about them. They put them up last night.” Are they to protect customers from each other? Or staff from customers who aren’t wearing masks? “I’m sure it’s some kind of protective thing, but I have no idea,” he said. Did they use the shower curtains sold in their own housewares department? “I really have no idea. I’ve been off for the last two days,” he said. The Stranger contacted Kroger for comment.
What do you think of the curtains? Other Stranger staffer Jasmyne Keimig said: "I want them to stay forever." I said: "You want them to stay forever?" She said: "OK not forever forever. But I love the shower and I love everything that reminds me of being in one." OK? Now for Nathalie's updates:
Governor Jay Inslee hosted a weird press conference today: Where he was the one interviewing business owners about what it's been like re-opening. There was a representative from the Washington Retail Association talking about curb-side retail that started last week, a lady from Washington Auto Dealers Association talking about selling cars over the phone, and a man from the Washington Hospitality Association talking about how clean restaurants are going to be when they're allowed to re-open. Mostly it was a snooze fest with little new information.
Sort of a funny press conference happening right now, as Inslee interviews people in the hospitality industry while they thank him for his leadership. It's got the vibe of the Biden podcast. https://t.co/HLsNfjraao
— David Kroman (@KromanDavid) May 14, 2020
The best part was when Inslee interviewed the retail lady: And she somehow reminded him that his wife’s birthday is next week. “You’ve done a great service for the governor here,” Inslee, a wife guy, said. He also plugged his wife’s hair-cutting skills again. Apparently she’s been using shears that are 50 years old to cut his hair! Oh, there was also the part where he related to the restaurant industry by reflecting back on one of his “favorite jobs” working as a server at Clinkerdagger, Bickerstaff & Pett's Public House, whatever that is.
New information about Phase 2 will be coming soon: As more counties begin to gradually open up, Inslee will be releasing more guidelines on things like whether restaurants will need to keep logs of customer’s personal information to comply with contact tracing policies. Inslee suspects that the logs will be optional. He says he’ll have more information about that in the coming days.
The layoffs continue: Cruise line Holland America, based in Seattle, will lay off nearly 2,000 people. This detail at the bottom of the Times report really smacked me in the face:
Meanwhile, 96,000 cruise workers remain stranded aboard ship as companies struggle to repatriate them while complying with international travel restrictions, Bloomberg reported.
Today was the potato giveaway in Tacoma: Over 200,000 pounds of potatoes were estimated to have been given away, a part of a larger push to donate 1 million pounds of potatoes to people in need. The potatoes would have gone to fast food restaurants. Look at that line!
*To ward off the vibes of Satanists.