July 20, 2024 8:30 pm

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Thousands protest against Inslee’s “Safe Start” plan

By Mario Lotmore | Lynnwood Times Staff

  • Washington State Patrol troopers estimated 4,500 demonstrators
  • Protesters were critical of Governor Inslee’s plan for re-opening Washington state
  • Restrictions to the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order would be lifted completely the week of July 20
  • May 6-8, Inslee issues guidance for vehicle sales, religious services, landscaping, pet walking, e-Commerce, curbside retail, car washing, vehicle sales, and religious services
  • On May 5, outdoor recreation restrictions are lifted
  • May 4, Governor Inslee signs his “Safe Start Washington” plan, a four-phase approach to reopening businesses in Washington state
  • May 4, the state legislature granted extension the proclamations of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order except for the statutory waivers and suspensions cited in Proclamation 20-31.1
  • May 1, Governor Inslee extended the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order until May 31
  • On April 29, Inslee rolls out COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard with data
  • On April 24, Inslee lifts restrictions on private construction
  • On April 21, the Governor released his COVID-19 recovery plan
  • On April 19, thousands protested in Olympia to ease restrictions to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order
  • On April 17, the Republican caucus released its “Safe Economic Restart Plan”

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Olympia, WA – On May 9, thousands protested at the Capitol campus against Governor Jay Inslee’s plan for re-opening Washington.  According to Washington State Patrol troopers we spoke to on the scene, there were an estimated 4,500 demonstrators and no arrests were made.  

It was the second largest demonstration in Olympia against Inslee’s shutdown order within three weeks.  The demonstration on April 19 saw 2,500 protestors according to the Washington State Patrol.

On May 4, Governor Jay Inslee signed the state’s “Safe Start Washington” plan, a phased approach to re-opening Washington’s economy. Protesters were critical of the plan’s timeframe, perceived contradictions, and lack of legislative oversight.

“It is too little too late,” replied Jane Dunham, a registered nurse from Yakult when asked why she is attending the rally. “I am losing work hours because there aren’t elective surgeries.” 

Dunham’s son died on March 13. Her family was unable to provide a funeral service because of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order.  “My son deserved better than that.”

Olympia Rally May 9
Jane Dunham of Yakult, WA. Photo by the Lynnwood Times.

Olga Farnum, a resident of Snohomish and paralegal said, “It [the recovery] is too slow.  Some businesses cannot survive another two, four or six weeks… these businesses are really hurting. My neighbor is in the construction business. He furloughed his employees but continued to pay their health care benefits to the tune of $10,000 per month. He is going into the hole to take care of his employees.”

“When you close down public fishing, state parks, overnight camping, and clam digging which are self-isolating activities, this doesn’t make sense,” said Lars Olsen, a realtor from Kennewick.

“The last two speeches by Governor Inslee where he was supposed to be telling us about the phase in process was nothing more than a giant finger to every business owner in the state of Washington,” said Robin a retired realtor in Kirkland.  “We have flattened the curve and now they keep moving the goal post.”

John, a masonry restoration worker from SeaTac criticized the lack of oversight of the “Safe Start Washington” plan by the legislature. “I disagree with the mandated criteria of the phases without it going through the House or the Senate for debate.”

John Freeman, a design engineer from Tumwater, would like an investigation to ensure that the governor is not politicizing COVID-19 for personal gain.

“Majority of our state is a service-based economy – restaurants, bars, casinos, entertainment, etc.  Now they tell us we can’t work.  We have a system that has become corrupt. Are there business interests that have influenced Inslee to allow which businesses can stay open or be deemed essential?  There needs to be an investigation.  What is he getting out of it?”

Joey Gibson of Vancouver who flips houses for a living told us, “You can’t have drive-in services but you allow marijuana stores to be open, you can’t go to church but you can go to plan parenthood.  This is complete discrimination.  He [Inslee] is trying to delay this as long as he can.”

COVID-19 violation website

Spreadsheets containing the contact information of over four thousand individuals across the state who reported violations of the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” plan to the COVID-19 violation website promoted by the governor were posted on Facebook Wednesday, May 6. All of those we spoke with, compared the state’s COVID-19 violation database to that of the tactics of Nazi Germany and the Stasi of East Germany post World War II Germany.

“It reminds me of Nazi Germany before Hitler came to power. He has the brown shirts, who went around reporting on people violating what Hitler wanted to enforce. When we are training our neighbors to snitch on one another, we have a problem.  We should care about the other person. Talk to your neighbor and find out their needs,” said Freeman.

Olsen shared a similar sentiment. “Ask yourself how did so many Jews get captured in Nazi Germany? They got ratted out by their neighbors.  Nobody should be tattling on their neighbors for trying to make a living or kids playing outside.”

Emily emphasized the concern this should be for everyone. “People have a right to believe what they want but when people are asked to turn against their neighbor and turn against friends that’s when you should start getting worried.”

Gibson criticized the media and ask that people think for themselves. “People listen to the media and they become victims to the media.”  Gibson explained, “I spoke to a woman yesterday that turned in a church.  I asked her why she didn’t complain about pot shops and how those establishments are not being selfish.  She said because she was told [by the media] not to complain about them.”

Western States Pact

On April 13, Governor Jay Inslee, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced a “Western Pact” agreement on a common vision to reopen all the states’ economies as well as controlling COVID-19 for the future. On April 27, the states of Nevada and Colorado joined the “Western Pact.”

Every person we interviewed was not in favor of Washington being a member of the “Western Pact.” Most stated that this usurps representative governance while others questioned its constitutionality.

“I am against it.  Inslee is to represent Washington not California and Oregon.  He needs to focus on our state,” said April Lopez a housewife from Lakewood.

Kelley, a hotel owner from Black Diamond added, “Inslee needs to be an independent thinker. He needs to do what is right for this state.  We don’t give a rip about the other states…let them govern their own state; Inslee needs to govern ours.”

Criticism for attending protest

Lastly, we asked, “What would you say to those that disagree with this rally or you attending by placing yourself and others at risk?” Responses emphasized the constitutional right to assemble with a sentiment of empathy for those suffering because of non-COVID related issues.

“For those that suggest we are selfish for being here they need to look a lot closer at what else is going on besides COVID – an increasing suicide rate, alcohol and drug relapse rate, depression rate, domestic abuse, and child abuse.  There is a lot more going on besides this virus.  They need to have empathy for those people as well,” said Robin.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy extension

According to RCW 43.06.220 subsection 4 of the State of emergency—Powers of governor pursuant to proclamation, only those proclamations related to RCW 43.06.220 subsection 2 require an extension.  Subsection 2 primarily deals with proclamations that alter state statues such as payment obligations, fees, permits, and family assistance programs. 

In other words, the proclamations not associated with state statue in the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order can solely be extended by the governor.

On May 4, the majority and minority leaders of both the House and Senate extended the proclamations pertaining to subsection 2 until May 31 except for RCW 42.56.520(i) statutory waivers and suspensions cited in Proclamation 33.1 are extended until May 11.

Senator Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-LD 3) and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-LD 27) support extending the statutory waivers and suspensions cited in Proclamation 20-31.1;  however, both House Minority Leader J.T. Wilcox (R-LD 2) and Senate Minority Leader Mark Schoesler (R-LD 9) did not.  Therefore, the extension of that proclamation was denied by the state legislature.

On April 17, the Republican caucus released its “Safe Economic Restart Plan.”  The plan calls for massive anti-body testing and to work with employers to screen workers.  It calls for a one-year exemption of sales and B&O taxes and a plan to aid those small businesses that do not qualify for federal emergency-assistance programs.

Last week Governor Inslee released his proposal for reopening the Washington state economy. The plan prioritizes health considerations over a rapid return to normalcy. The governor lists five requirements: (1) More testing; (2) Contact identification capabilities; (3) Personal protection for everyone who needs it; (4) Adequate capacity in the state’s health care system; and (5) A vaccine.

COVID-19 data points

According to WA State Department of Health, as of May 8 there were 931 COVID-19 related deaths in the state out of 16,891 confirmed cases, which equates to a death rate of 5.5% of confirmed cases or 0.01% of the state’s 7.615 million inhabitants.  Of the confirmed COVID-19 related deaths, 58% were 80 years old or older and 91% were 60 years old or older.

King County leads the state with 500 COVID related deaths, followed by Snohomish and Pierce counties with 117 and 57 respectively.  No deaths have been reported in 16 of Washington state’s thirty-nine counties.

According to the Snohomish County Health District, as of May 8 there were 115 COVID-19 related deaths in Snohomish County out of 2,666 confirmed cases, which equates to a death rate of 4.3% of confirmed cases or 0.014% of the county’s 822,083 inhabitants.  Of the confirmed COVID-19 related deaths, 45.2% were 80 years old or older, 74.8% were 70 years old or older, and 87% were 60 years old or older.

As of May 8, a total of 569 COVID-19 cases were reported in Lynnwood of which 17 resulted in death. This would equate to a death rate of 2.99% of confirmed cases or 0.044% of the city’s 38,511 inhabitants or 0.017% of the 101,145 residents in both the city and unincorporated Lynnwood.

Currently, Inslee’s “Stay, Home, Stay Healthy” order is in effect through May 31, but if the “Safe Start Washington” plan follows the governor’s four phased 3-week per phase timeline, residents should realistically expect a complete lifting of restrictions to the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order the week of July 20.

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