Here's your daily round-up of the latest local and national news. (Like our coverage? Please consider making a recurring contribution to The Stranger to keep it comin'!)
Uhhh, U.S. COVID-19 cases appear to be plateauing at summer peak levels: Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Rochelle Walensky expressed "concern" about case averages flattening at around 70,000 after a steep drop in January, reports the BBC. "Please hear me clearly: At this level of cases, with variants spreading, we stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground we have gained," she said. Easing restrictions across the country right now, in other words, might not be such a great idea. The agency previously predicted B.1.1.7., the more virulent variant first identified in the U.K., would become the dominant strain by March, but we don't have enough surveillance of isolated cases to know for sure how prevalent the new variants have become.
COVID-19 cases rise globally for the first time in 7 weeks: World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said "the upward trend was taking place everywhere in the world apart from Africa and the Western Pacific region," according to Al Jazeera. His line is the same as the CDC's line is the same as the WA DOH's line is the same as the Public Health Seattle & King County line: the vaccines are great, but our work-horses are still masks and maintaining our distance.
As with the nation, so with King County: In a Twitter thread, Public Health Seattle & King County chief Dr. Jeff Duchin said cases have plateaued here, too, which is making him even more "FOC about VOC," which I take to mean "full of concern about variants of concern."
⚠️ The decline in King Co CoV-19 cases has plateaued over the past week. On FEB 1, we entered Phase 2 w/increasing activity. About 2 weeks later, cases stopped dropping. Will need to watch trends closely & proceed w/caution. I'm FOC about VOC...
— Jeffrey Duchin, MD (@DocJeffD) March 2, 2021
Some positive vaccine news: Looks like the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which should meet its production goal of 100 million doses by late June thanks to a Biden-brokered partnership with rival drug company Merck, might push hesitant people toward getting the jab. Two pokes is a poke too far, but just one.......
A new #COVID19 vaccine that requires 1 shot instead of 2 could make a difference to some in the "wait-and-see" group now.
A quarter of that group say a 1-dose vaccine would make them more likely to get vaccinated: https://t.co/Cmr4rntz7r pic.twitter.com/65SGglzWA6
— KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) (@KFF) March 2, 2021
"Longing, we say, because desire is full / of endless distances:" The word "distance" in the blurb before the Duchin blurb for some reason sharply recalled that line from Robert Hass's eternal poem, "Meditations at Lagunitas." I've quoted that poem a lot on Slog, so while I'm here I'll also recommend "Faint Music" and "Dancing." Hass turned 80 yesterday. Here's to another 80, why not?
Speaking of longing: I ask yet again, where are the fucking checks? The Senate's answer: We're working on it. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer anticipates "some late nights" this week as his chamber discusses the $1.9 trillion relief bill "as early as Wednesday," Politco reports. The criminal absence of a $15 minimum wage piece, which wasn't even a living wage back in 2013 when it passed in SeaTac, will render the legislation "less complicated," according to Senate majority whip Dick Durbin. The goal is to get the package to President Biden's desk before March 14, which is when the higher unemployment benefits run out, and about when Washington state's next revenue forecast comes out. Kinda fun.
Susan Collins says she's "increasingly convinced" the WH isn't seeking compromise on stimulus, per Hill pool.
"I don't understand how the WH can describe a bill that passed the House without a single Republican vote as being bipartisan. What was bipartisan was the opposition."
— Andrew Solender (@AndrewSolender) March 1, 2021
👆Example #317 of why bipartisanism is bullshit 👆: As Ezra Klein keeps pointing out on all his platforms, in a highly competitive and polarized political environment, "bipartisanship" is not a bone the majority throws to the minority as a way of sharing power but rather a bargaining chip the minority uses in bad faith to regain power. Such an environment incentivizes the minority to withhold support for the majority's priorities in order to make the majority look ineffective, which then increases support for the minority in upcoming elections. If a bill lacks "bipartisan" support, it is evidence only of a recalcitrant and calculating minority, not a stingy majority.
ICYMI, Myanmar's "security forces" massacre 18: In the "bloodiest day" yet of anti-coup protests in the country (there but for the grace of God go we), cops and the military killed 18 people and wounded 30 on Sunday, Al Jazeera reports. Despite the death, the brutality, the tear gas, the guns, and the lines of cops replaced by lines of soldiers, protests continued into Tuesday morning in the country's largest city, Yangon.
Security forces are attacking the protesters on Yangon's Insein Road with stun grenades and tear gas on Tuesday morning. #WhatsHapppeningInMyanmar #2021uprising pic.twitter.com/i5IB6UTddA
— Myanmar Now (@Myanmar_Now_Eng) March 2, 2021
The Dr. Seuss company will stop publishing six books: After years of teachers flagging racial stereotypes in Theodor Seuss Geisel's "Dr. Seuss" books, and after one school in Virginia de-emphasized reading Seuss books on a day the district normally reads Seuss books, the company who runs his legacy admitted that “these books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong," according to the Associated Press. The titles you won't see on the shelves anymore include And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, If I Ran the Zoo, McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat’s Quizzer. You can see an example of Seuss's racist drawings here, including an illustration from If I Ran the Zoo featuring caricatures of "Africans." Before you grab your torches and pitchforks to cancel the multimillion dollar publishing concern for "cancelling" a few of its own fringe titles, consider this question from the Washington Post's Philip Bump: "If curtailing racist imagery in Dr. Seuss is ‘cancel culture,’ what, exactly, is your culture?"
The hoteling drama at City Hall: The Seattle Times reports on why Mayor Durkan's "hotel surge" to temporarily house the homeless came up 1/3 short (from a goal of opening up "300 hotel rooms...125 new units of 24-hour shelter...and more rental assistance" down to "221 hotel spaces...and 60 newly created 24-hour shelter beds") and months behind schedule. Last Friday PubliCola reported that Durkan's office is leaving on the table federal funding it could use to open more hotel rooms for chronically homeless people, and that its reasons for doing so are bunk. Since then, City Council Member and budget chair Teresa Mosqueda expressed "dismay" over the Mayor's inaction, and Chief Seattle Club director / mayoral candidate Colleen Echohawk called the lack of movement on this a "mistake." The Times noted that the Mayor's chief of staff called Mosqueda's objections "incorrect" and "irresponsible" and also basically trashed PubliCola's report. Erica Barnet, who wrote the story, stands by the work.
Should teachers be fast-tracked for the vaccine? Seattle's school district, teachers union and lawyers are lobbying Gov. Jay Inslee and Mayor Jenny Durkan to speed up the timeline to vaccinate teachers and to create clinics on school grounds, reports the Seattle Times.
Mike McQuaid drops candidacy for city council: West Seattle Blog confirmed with the campaign that McQuaid has withdrawn. The self-styled "pragmatic" civic leader's withdrawal follows a report of him being charged with assault and harassment in 2015 after he allegedly threatened to decapitate a landscaper, bringing the get-off-my-lawn discourse to new heights.
Want your bus route back sooner? Then take King County Metro's survey. I did it. Takes like five minutes. The survey just lists certain routes and asks you to select the ones you use and the times you typically use them. This "valuable input will help transit planners identify and recommend priority service changes in September 2021 and beyond," Metro says.
Five-day forecast is looking wet after Wednesday: Prepare to enter the darkness again, friends.
We recommend you enjoy the nice weather while you can! A return to the wet will be happening later this week. Rain expected to begin late Thursday, starting at the coast and then continuing inland. Snow levels are expected to be above all the passes Fri. before falling Sat. #wawx pic.twitter.com/XbTq5bYCfQ
— NWS Seattle (@NWSSeattle) March 2, 2021
Washington will waive liquor license fees: It's a one-time waiver meant to provide a break for restaurants, wineries and other businesses. Liquor licenses can cost $75 to $1,000, King 5 reports.
Dreaming of just dropping all the bullshit and opening up a PB&J food truck that plays "Young Folks" by Peter Bjorn & John on loop? Burien is your new promised land.
We are discussing the Food Truck Pilot Program w/in the city of Burien. CM Tosta added in residential areas as possible locations (yes!) and most seem to be in agreement that we should open them up to the downtown core as well. Vote coming soon...
— Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx 🏳️🌈 (@bcckrystalmarx) March 2, 2021
Renton sees its first homicide of 2021: On Monday evening someone shot and killed a 17-year-old kid. Officers found the teen "injured" in a nearby alley, but he later died of his injuries, reports KIRO. Renton police Commander Dave Leibman said cops knew nothing about the circumstances of the crime, but they suspect the suspect knew the victim.
Forgive me for cursing the timeline: But over the weekend a friend showed me this video of Puddle of Mudd covering Nirvana's "About a Girl," and I can't stop rewatching it. Big Cartman energy, and yet also sincere, and the bongos....why?