We have respected Washington Governor Jay Inslee because of his early get-tough, let the scientists share the credit approach to fighting COVID-19 in March of 2020. The results were fewer deaths per person compared to New York (see below) and also compared to many other states where the politicians delayed taking action. Governor Inslee may be closing the barn door a little too late with the delta variant yesterday but he is taking strong action.
This is from the Seattle Times:
OLYMPIA — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has brought back a statewide mask requirement and ordered all public, private and charter school employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as subject to their employment.
The governor’s announcement Wednesday comes as cases of COVID-19 cases surge and Washington’s hospitals are straining under a shortfall of health care staffers.
Inslee’s orders represent some of the strictest measures in the nation to tamp down on a fresh wave of COVID-19. They have already brought fresh rounds of protesters to the Capitol campus by those opposed to the vaccine or government mandates.
In a news conference Wednesday where he was joined by state Schools Superintendent Chris Reykdal and Health Secretary Umair Shah, Inslee said Washington is breaking new records for hospitalizations.
“More than 95% of the COVID hospitalizations we see today are among the unvaccinated,” said Inslee, adding: “And it is heart-rending for us to see losing our neighbors, our co-workers, our students to a preventable disease.”
Inslee’s vaccine mandate for thousands of state employees, contractors and now K-12 and university employees is, in fact, likely the strictest in the nation.
Wednesday’s order expands that requirement to K -12 educators, school staff, coaches, bus drivers, school volunteers and others working in school facilities who will have to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18. Since it takes time to get two shots and for the second shot to take full effect, the process must be started much earlier than that.
Higher-education staff and contractors also fall under the mandate, as well as certified, licensed and contracted early learning and child-care providers.
And, the higher education mandate includes coaches. Inslee said Washington State University (WSU) football Coach Nick Rolovich’s decision not to get vaccinated did not play in his decision either way on the new orders. Inslee said coaches are just like other higher education employees, subject to the mandate.
License-exempt employees in early learning, child-care and youth-development programs also fall under the vaccine mandate. Those who refuse will lose their jobs unless they qualify for medical or religious exemptions.
Wednesday’s announcement comes about a week after Reykdal sent Inslee a letter “strongly encouraging” him to include school employees in his sweeping order requiring state employees and health care workers to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs.
In recent weeks there’s been a push by national and local elected officials, health experts and teachers union leadership to require a vaccine mandate for school employees. At Wednesday’s news conference, Inslee became the third governor in the country to require some sort of vaccine proof for school employees. Although Inslee’s order has been the most stringent.
For anyone interested in comparing Washington's COVID and population numbers with New York's, we have them. New York has a population of 20.4 million while Washinton has about 7.8 million people. Washington has far fewer deaths from COVID-19.
To stop a contagious disease from spreading, it is necessary to go hard early in my non-scientific opinion. The government must stamp out the disease before it spreads in the community. That tough approach is really being tested in New Zealand this week. Please watch prime minister Jacinda Ardern's press conference as the PM and her science minister, Dr Ashley Bloomfield, go hard on a handful of community cases in Aukland. They sound like detectives trying to solve a crime. They call trouble spots areas of interest. It is unbelievable the way they put a countrywide lockdown on in a day. It wasn't easy but let's see if it succeeds. Australia is also having real challenges with delta but we showed the other day how their deaths are forty times lower than a comparably populated Florida.
New Zealand's go hard, go early approach still seems the best way to prevent mass deaths from this pandemic. It contains the virus before it spreads throughout the community. Australia does that too but not quite as well. A key ingredient is that the public's cooperation is absolutely necessary for lives to be saved. A sense of we are all in this together.
We don't have that unified public cooperation for sure in the United States but some of the arguments against vaccine and mask mandates are just plain juvenile. For those who keep making their case using a pre-adolescent notion of what freedom is, I would like you to take a look at a government action where you could get your head blown off that has been ruled constitutional. This is from Arver v United States (1918) where the Supreme Court in a 9-0 decision held that military conscription is constitutional:
In reaching its decision, the Court rejected the argument that compelled military service is repugnant to a free government and in conflict with all the great guarantees of the Constitution as to individual liberty. “Indeed, it may not be doubted that the very conception of a just government and its duty to the citizen includes the duty of the citizen to render military service in case of need, and the right of the government to compel it,” [Chief Justice Edward D] White argued.
I do not favor conscription but I know damn well it is legal if Congress and the President want it. Freedoms are limited. The safety of the public and the republic as a whole comes before the individual. It is a balancing act and when the government goes too far like I believe e they did with the Patriot Act, there is justified pushback.
The government in a free society can legally compel you to fight in a war and they certainly can mandate that you take a vaccine in a pandemic so you can work a job safely and lower your risk of infecting yourself and others. In addition, the legality of mandated masking has been settled too in the government's favor.
The debate on this blog is basically done on this issue. You can go over to join a group on a different site to spread the anti-vax nonsense if you like. The majority will oppose you as the public is with employer vaccine mandates by a percentage of 52-38 according to this Gallup poll. That is way outside the margin for error. This isn't about your freedom or mine It's about stopping the madness where over 620,000 Americans are dead because of COVID-19. That's one of the worst death rates in the world. We should not accept it.
PS An edited comment I made on a prior post:
I looked up the New Zealand numbers and did a rough comparison with the US. The population is around 5 million and they have had 26 deaths from COVID. The US population is 333 million. We are 66 times bigger. So if we multiply 26 X 66 we get 1,716. That's about how many deaths we should have if we compared ourselves to New Zealand. We have 622,000 COVID deaths in the United States. By my social studies teacher math, you are about 362 times more likely to die from COVID in the US compared to New Zealand when we adjust for population size. These statistics are repugnant to this American. We can do much better if we united.