New stuff from the Gov: Inslee announced today that National Guard members will help staff hospitals and testing sites as providers struggle to keep up with Omicron's surge. Inslee also ordered a four-week pause on non-urgent procedures to help open hospitals' schedules. Like in the early days of the pandemic, he's asking for retired healthcare workers to temporarily return and serve.

Here's what King County's COVID dashboard is looking like:

100% increase in deaths.
"100% increase in deaths." Public Health - King County

Well, this got weird: "Pig heart transplant recipient stabbed a man seven times years ago"

Queer country music pioneers Lavender Country are back with the bops: Openly gay country singer and notable former Seattleite Patrick Haggerty made music history with his band Lavender Country's only debut album in 1973, which featured cult hits like "I Can’t Shake the Stranger Out of You" and "Cryin' These Cocksucking Tears." Now, almost fifty years later, the band's got a second album coming out, Blackberry Rose. It'll drop on February 18. I interviewed Haggerty three years ago when the band first teased the album, but I held off on publishing it until it was ready. Now I can't find the interview notes, so, um, BRB. In the meantime, let's play some oldies.

Pickle shot:


I love catching up on regional news 🥒

Trump's Supreme Court says Biden can't order vaccination-or-testing requirements for large companies: The new OSHA mandate required employees at companies with 100 or more workers to either get vaccinated or provide a negative COVID test weekly to keep working in-person. The Supreme Court said nope.

But! Chief Justice Roberts and big baby Justice Kavanaugh joined liberal Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan in saying OSHA does have the ability to enforce the requirement* for healthcare workers at facilities that take Medicare or Medicaid.

Alito was mad about it: “I do not think that the Federal Government is likely to be able to show that Congress has authorized the unprecedented step of compelling over 10,000,000 healthcare workers to be vaccinated on pain of being fired."

*There's not a testing option for the healthcare workers: Here's a White House official in November: "We have a higher bar for healthcare workers, given their critical role in ensuring the health and safety of their patients. And so, it’s either vaccination or an exemption under the rules outlined."

Sorry dude: The Queen of England stripped Prince Andrew of his honorary military appointments and royal patronages. Shouldn't have been buddies with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Meanwhile, the sexual assault case against the Prince is moving forward.

On the Boards Executive Director Betsey Brock is moving on: She's headed to become Director of Development at Seattle Arts and Lectures in February. Catherine Nueva España will step in as the Interim Executive Director. Brock has been integral in getting the organization through the pandemic, and I chatted with her about the journey here.

The students are striking: At Franklin High School, some students say they won't show up to school next week, when classes are expected to return in-person, unless their demands on met. They want N95 masks, weekly coronavirus testing, and booster shots to be provided at school. A potential sick-out is planned across the district for tomorrow, reports Seattle Times. And on Slog today, a freshman at Lincoln High School argued the state needs to hurry the fuck up and send some goddamn fucking masks to schools PRONTO (I paraphrase).

It's a trend: Students are protesting across the country. In Oakland, students want their school district to either pivot to remote learning or comply "with a list of health and testing demands that include KN95 masks for each student, more testing, and expanded outdoor space for lunchtime," writes the Washington Post.

Lucky ducks:

I don't mean to be glib: This is profound—more of this.

We're nearing the end of the first week of the 2022 session of the State Legislature: And we don't have that many weeks to go. Which bills are you tracking? Here are some fun ones:

  • Legalize shrooms, baby! Sen. Jesse Salomon's bill would basically legalize magic mushrooms, with plenty of TBD caveats. Some of the people behind the Seattle City Council's recent psilocybin decriminalization resolution worked on this bill. If passed, Washington would essentially catch up with our southern neighbor. It's a needed start. Ben Adlin has more on the bill for Marijuana Moment here.

  • Melt the guns: Okay, not quite. But Sen. Kuderer's bill would ban assault weapons in Washington. The bill's list includes 62 specific firearms or copycat weapons, including AK-47s, AK-74s, AR-15s, etcetera etcetera. It was read last year and didn't go anywhere, and I doubt it will go anywhere this year, but it's got a public hearing scheduled next week. Attorney General Bob Ferguson wrote a five-page letter to the Legislature last month encouraging them to ban the killing machines. Expect gun lovers to flip shit.

  • Force movies set in Seattle to actually be filmed in Seattle: Hehe, again, not quite. But bills from Sen. Wellman and Rep. Marcus Riccelli would update and expand the state's lousy Motion Picture Competitiveness Program. They would ramp up the pool of incentive$$$ from $3.5 million to $20 million annually and expand a media mentorship program. Eligible films would need to hire a certain percentage of in-state crews to qualify. A third bill, from Sen. Short, would increase the pool even more (to $25 million), but require $6.5 million of that to be spent in rural areas.

  • Any pickleball fans out there? There better be because they want to make it the state sport.

    We've got more to follow in our mega round-up here.

    It's the first anniversary of Trump getting impeached for the second time: Cheers to all who celebrate. (The Impeach the Motherfucker Again crowd.)