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Washington records 4th vaccine death in U.S. – local and national update for October 5, 2021

Jessica Berg Wilson died from an extremely rare complication 12 days after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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[KING COUNTY, Wash.] – (MTN) Dr. Umair A. Shah, Washington State Secretary of Health, confirmed the death of a Seattle woman who suffered serious complications after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Jessica Berg-Wilson received the single-dose vaccination on August 26 and died of complications on September 7.

New COVID cases continue to decline statewide, while the gap between the least and most vaccinated counties is starting to narrow.

Seattle Police Officer Eric Whitehead, who refused to wear a mask at a Seattle hospital on January 15, was disciplined after the OPA determined he had acted unprofessionally. SPD also announced that more than 350 officers had not submitted proof of vaccination to city officials.

Less than 9% of Washingtonians say they will never get the Covid-19 vaccine, down by almost half from six weeks ago. According to the Washington Department of Health, over 70% of all Washingtonians over 11 years old are fully vaccinated.

The Lancet released a study on natural immunity to Covid-19 and how long it lasts. Researchers came up with a wide range, but the average is just 16 months.

Highland Middle School in the Bellevue School District and Lockwood Elementary in the Northshore School District reported six active Covid-19 cases in both facilities.

The City of Kirkland has funds available from the American Rescue Plan Act to aid small businesses behind on commercial property rent.

Nationally, the CDC pulled the holiday travel guidance they published on Friday, saying it was outdated information posted by mistake. The Department of Justice will start investigating the most egregious threats, and violent acts at school board meetings after multiple states pleaded for aid.

If you’ve got a home rapid Covid-19 test from the company Ellume, it might be under recall due to a high rate of false positives.

New York City Department of Education, Kaiser Permanente, and Northwell Health, representing more than 475,000 employees across the United States, reported vaccination rates from 95% to 99%. For the 8,000 New York DoE workers who so far are refusing to get vaccinated, some took to direct action in Union Square.

Alaska, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming continue to demonstrate the impact of laisse faire public health strategies. Again, in Idaho, Janice McGeachin goes full awful, while Wyoming state senator Anthony Bouchard pushes Covid-19 misinformation and argues with a Tik Tok influencer on Twitter.

We lift our travel advisory to the South Central Hospital Region but continue to keep a close eye on the east.

This update uses the latest data from the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH), released on October 5, 2021.


vaccinationhospitalsschoolslocalnationalmisinformation

Washington State Update for October 5, 2021

Washington state Covid-19 update

New cases in Washington state continue to decline slowly. We’re adding some new metrics. A combination of increasing vaccination rates, mask wear, and the Delta variant running out of new hosts contributes to the slowdown.

Percent of Total Population Fully VaccinatedAverage 14-Day New Case Rate (unadjusted)
60.00% or above (4)212.0 (down)
50.00% to 59.99% (13 counties)533.1 (down)
40.00% to 49.99% (14 counties)650.1 (down)
29.30% to 39.99% (8 counties)679.0 (down)
14-Day New Covid-19 Cases per 100K average by Vaccination Rate, Not Adjusted for Population

Through October 4, Washington’s statewide 14-day rolling average is 417.1 Covid-19 cases per 100K, the lowest number since August 18.

For the second time in three days, no counties reported more than 1000 new cases per 100K residents.

Counties in the 800.0 to 999.9 per 100K range include Ferry, Grant, Grays Harbor, Klickitat, Lincoln Pend Oreille, and Stevens.

Counties in the 600.0 to 799.9 per 100K range include Adams, Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Columbia, Cowlitz, Franklin, Mason, Okanogan, and Walla Walla. Franklin County remained just under 800 while Spokane, Lewis, Douglas, Garfield, and Chelan counties were just under 600.0.

New cases were up for all people under 80 years old were down, and unchanged for those 80 and above. Hospitalizations were mixed. Down for children and adolescents, up for age 35 to 49, and down for ages 65 to 79.

Age Group7-Day Case Rate7-Day Hospitalization Rate
Ages 0-11185.2 (down)0.7 (down)
Ages 12-19220.8 (down)0.4 (down)
Ages 20-34183.5 (down)5.4
Ages 35-49183.2 (down)8.4 (up)
Ages 50-64127.9 (down)14.3
Ages 65-7998.9 (down)17.7 (down)
Ages 80+111.233.3
7-day case rate and 7-day hospitalization rate is per 100K within the age group – the target for 7-day case rate is <25.0, but there are other factors such as vaccination rates within the age groups, how many total tests within the 7-day period, and the positivity rate within each age group

The USA Today COVID Tracker reported 42 deaths yesterday. The state of Washington is not reporting the percentage of positive cases.

Washington Department of Health confirms Johnson & Johnson vaccine related death

Washington Secretary of Health Dr. Umair A. Shah confirmed today that a Seattle resident became the fourth person to die in the United States from a vaccine-related injury. Jessica Berg Wilson, 37, received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on August 26. On September 7, she died after a Vaccine-Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia (VITT) formed.

VITT is an extremely rare condition identified in April 2021, specifically to adenovirus-vector vaccines such as Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca. The FDA suspended emergency use authorization of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 23 after reports of blood clots and six possible deaths.

During a five-week pause, researchers determined the incident rate was less than 3 per million people. In contrast, the risk for serious blood clots due to a Covid-19 infection is 207 per one million. Additionally, doctors determined that common emergency room strategies for treating blood clots, such as using the anti-clotting drug heparin, were contraindicated. The CDC created updated guidelines on identifying and properly treating VITT in patients and reauthorized the single-dose vaccine.

As of June 30, the CDC has confirmed 35 incidents of VITT and three fatalities after 12. 5 million doses were administered. Berg-Wlson is the fourth Covid-19 vaccine-related death in the United States, where 185 million people are fully vaccinated, and approximately 15.4 million have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The Seattle Times reported 47 incidents of VITT through the end of September in a separate article.

Yesterday we reported that the VAERS database indicated a 30 to 39-year-old female from Washington state who received the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine had died. Twitter created a firestorm on Sunday night and Monday morning when the social media platform labeled her death as misinformation.

VITT has only been documented with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the United States. The condition is very rare, with similar odds to dying from snakebite in the United States. It is more prevalent among women from 30 to 50 years old. Hormone-based contraceptives can slightly increase risk, along with a personal or family history of blood clotting disorders. The condition will typically appear two to three weeks after inoculation but can occur as far as seven weeks out.

If you are still choosing to get vaccinated, talk to your healthcare professional about which vaccine is best for you. Additionally, if you have recently received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, learn the symptoms to watch for. Be sure that your medical provider is aware you were recently vaccinated if you got to an emergency room.

SPD Officer who refused to wear a mask at hospital emergency department suspended one day

The Seattle Office of Police Accountability (OPA) recommended officer Eric Whitehead receive a one-day suspension over his refusal to wear a mask at an area Hospital on Friday, January 15, 2021, while Washington state was experiencing a Covid-19 surge.

A five-month investigation determined that Whitehead violated only one rule, Standards and Duties 5.001.10, to be professional. The investigation also recommended administrative changes in how SPD Human Resources documents medical waivers issued to officers and communicates acceptance of the request.

On January 15, Whitehead was called to an unnamed area hospital to assist with a disruptive suspect in the Emergency Department. Four other SPD officers were present, and all were wearing masks. Whitehead was given a mask by a nurse but refused to wear it. He told the nurse, “I hear that. I’m here doing a job. I’m talking to my squadmate about what we got going on. You want me to wear a mask or whatever. We can entertain that idea later on, okay. I just wanna do my job right now, just like you.”

The nurse contacted the charge nurse, who reported the issue to a nursing security supervisor. The supervisor again asked Whitehead to wear a mask, who responded with, “Is she all in a tizzy about it?”

Whitehead expressed concern that the surgical mask could be used as a weapon against him. Whitehead ultimately put on the mask when talking with the detainee, and after some other action, left the hospital.

The entire incident was filmed on security cameras and Whitehead’s body camera. The OPA found that Whitehead was not honest with investigators. He told the OPA he maintained social distance from other people and said the hospital staff he was medically exempt from wearing a mask. The videos and testimony from the hospital staff and other officers indicated he did neither.

When asked why he never told the hospital about his exemption and the discrepancy in his testimony, he changed his story, indicating the “interaction had become contentious.” Whitehead told investigators he had a medical exemption from SPD, allowing him not to wear a mask.

According to the OPA report, “A copy of a memorandum that Named Employee 1 submitted to the HR Lieutenant on June 28, 2020. In that memorandum, he stated that he had a medical condition that prevented him from wearing facemasks and asserted that he was entitled to not do so by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He noted in the memorandum that wearing the facemask caused him mental and physical strain, as well as increased respiratory distress. He wrote that he tried using a variety of different facemasks but stopped doing so as they continued to cause him problems.

Whitehead did receive an e-mail saying that state and city could grant an exemption, but it never stated he had been given one. Whitehead presented the OPA with letters from two doctors. One letter claims he has a dermatological condition that is exacerbated by mask wear.

Despite his claims that any mask caused “mental and physical” strain, Whitehead was on duty for multiple protests during the summer of 2020. During his service, he was exposed to pepper spray, OC, and blast balls, while wearing a full-face respirator, ballistic vest, and riot gear as part of his duties without issue.

OPA Director Andrew Myerberg has come under fire for failing to enforce existing SPD department rules and working too closely with SPOG in an Office of Inspector General complaint. Director Myerberg is currently interviewing for a different job in Arizona and planning to leave the OPA.

SPOG estimates as many as 200 SPD officers will voluntarily separate from the department after the October 18 vaccine mandate deadline. The Seattle Police Department reported tonight that 354 sworn officers had not submitted proof of vaccination. While vaccination rates for hospital staff, educators, and skilled workers such as pilots, bankers, flight attendants, and computer programmers, have ranged from 95% to 99.5%, law enforcement officers remain one of the lowest vaccinated groups.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has refused to indicate if she will fire the unvaccinated officers after October 18 or leave the issue for the next mayor.

Editor’s Note: Our Chief Content Officer is listed as a party in an ongoing OPA investigation into the conduct of SPOG President Mike Solan. One of our Senior Staff was listed as a part of a closed OPA investigation for the excessive use of force.

Less than 9% of Washingtonians say they will never get the Covid-19 vaccine

According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 8.2% of the 18 and older population in Washington state say they will either probably or definitely not get the vaccination. This is down almost by half from approximately six weeks ago—the survey, published on September 22.

Travel Advisories

Today, we are lifting our travel advisory to Yakima, Klickitat, Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla Counties. We continue to recommend when visiting those counties, you use reasonable caution and don’t engage in dangerous activities.

We continue to recommend avoiding recreational travel to Spokane County. We strongly advise against all nonessential travel to Alaska, Idaho, and Montana. Hospital resources in these regions are constrained, and you may receive inadequate care if you experience a medical emergency.

We continue to monitor the situation in the East Hospital Region and may expand our travel advisory beyond Spokane County.

Thank you

Thank you to our new subscribers and those of you who have made one-time contributions. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for helping us keep the lights on!

In August, King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin mentioned the N95 Project as a trusted source for N95 masks. A check on the website showed that a 50 count box of United States manufactured N95 masks are available for $40.00. We recommend wearing N95 masks indoors as they provide the best protection against COVID when properly fitted.

No promotional consideration has been given, or requested from the n95 project or any manufacturer of masks

Vaccination

Over 70% of elgible Washington state residents are fully vaccinated

The Washington Department of Health reported that as of October 4, 2021, 70.7% of all residents 12 and older are fully vaccinated against Covid-19. An additional 6.4% have received at least one dose. Concern over the Delta variant, dwindling vaccine hesitancy, and multiple vaccine mandates have significantly increased the number of people vaccinated.

Tracking statewide data, counties where 60% or more of all residents are fully vaccinated have dramatically lower rates of new Covid-19 cases.

Large comparative study indicates natural immunity from Covid-19 fades after 5 to 6 months

The Lancet published a study that reported natural immunity for Covid-19 fades after 148 to 185 days on average. The report, The durability of immunity against reinfection by SARS-CoV-2: a comparative evolutionary study, was conducted by Yale University, Temple University, and the University of North Carolina.

The report found, “Reinfection by SARS-CoV-2 under endemic conditions would likely occur between 3 and 63 months after peak antibody response, with a median of 16 months. This protection is of less than half the duration revealed for the endemic coronaviruses circulating among humans.”

Three to 63 months is a very wide range, and a serology test that detects the presence of Covid-19 antibodies can’t determine how robust a response the body would make if reinfected. The researchers added, “Relying on herd immunity without widespread vaccination jeopardises millions of lives, entailing high rates of reinfection, morbidity, and death. In areas with low vaccination, our data-driven analysis reinforces the need for continued safety practices such as social distancing, proper indoor ventilation, and mask wearing to avoid reinfection as pandemic conditions continue.”

Other studies have indicated that the combination of vaccination and natural immunity creates a supercharged response to the Covid-19 virus.

Pfizer vaccine booster shots are now available

Booster shots for eligible individuals are now available statewide. Individuals who received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine more than six months ago, are 65 or older, or are immunocompromised can receive their third dose immediately.

In the Kirland-Bellevue-Woodinville area, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Bartell’s, and QFC are offering booster shots. Additionally, the third dose is available at the CVS located within the Target store at 17,700 NE 76th Street in Redmond.

Most locations require an appointment, which can be scheduled online.

King County, Washington is reporting over 86.7% of age eligible residents are vaccinated with at least one dose. The highest rates of positivity are in areas with low vaccination rates statewide. The FDA has provided full approval of the Pfizer vaccine for anyone 16 and over and EUA approval for the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

COVID vaccines are free for anyone over 12 years old, and no appointment is necessary at most locations. Lyft and Hopelink provide free transportation, and KinderCare, the Learning Care Group, and the YMCA offer free childcare during vaccination appointments or recuperation.

For information on getting a vaccination in King County, you can visit the King County Department of Public Health website.

Malcontent News

Hospital Status

According to the DoH COVID Dashboard, 17.5% of all acute care patients hospitalized in Washington have Covid-19. Currently, 91% of all staffed acute care beds are occupied statewide, with approximately 654 available. ICUs are at 88.4% of capacity statewide, with 30.0% of ICU patients fighting Covid-19 – an estimated 352 patients with 55% on ventilators. The state has approximately 138 ICU beds available.

The 7-day rolling average hospital admission rate for new COVID patients was 124. The Department of Health reported 1,192 Covid-19 patients statewide on October 4, with 192 on ventilators. The total number of patients for October 3 was adjusted downward slightly, to 1,197.

Hospital RegionCountiesICU OccupancyICU COVID PatientsAcute Care OccupancyAcute Care COVID Patients
EastAdams, Asotin, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Wahkiakum, Whitman92.2%46.1%88.6%26.4%
NorthIsland, San Juan, Skagit, Whatcom74.9%32.6%86.9%12.8%
North CentralChelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan86.9%51.8%76.8%23.1%
NorthwestClallam, Jefferson, Kitsap, Mason92.5%42.2%96.0%26.4%
Puget SoundKing, Pierce, Snohomish91.6%24.4%94.5%13.8%
South CentralBenton, Columbia, Franklin, Kittitas, Walla Walla, Yakima87.6%34.0%83.5%22.2%
SouthwestClark, Cowlitz, Klickitat, Skamania 72.5%33.4%87.1%22.9%
WestGrays Harbor, Lewis, Pacific, Thurston83.9%24.1%86.2%17.7%
Hospital status by region – September 30, 2021 – ICU Occupancy should be below 80%, ICU COVID Patients should be below 20%, Acute Care Occupancy should be below 80%, and Acute Care COVID Patients should be below 10%

There was very little change in the status of Hospital Regions over the weekend.

Back to School

School DistrictStatusLess than 10 Active Cases10 or More Active Cases
BellevueYELLOW– Bellevue (7**)
– Big Picture (1*)
– Chinook (3*)
– Eastgate (1*)
– Enatai (3*)
– Highland (6**)
– Interlake (3*)
– Lake Hills (4*)
– Newport (4*)
– Newport Heights (1*)
– Puesta del Sol (1*)
– Sammamish (2*)
– Sherwood Forest (2*)
– Spiritridge (2*)
– Stevenson (1*)
– Tillicum (1*)
– Wilburton (2*)
– Woodridge (3*)
None
Lake WashingtonYELLOW– Bell Elementary (1*)
– Barton Elementary (1*)
– Dickinson/Explorer Elementary (1*)
– Ella Baker Elementary (1*)
– Eastlake High (2*)
– Finn Hill Middle School (3*)
– Franklin Elementary (2*)
– Frost Elementary (2*)
– ICS (1*)
– Inglewood Middle School (1*)
– Juanita Elementary (1*)
– Kamiakin Middle School (4*)
– Keller Elementary (2*)
– Lakeview Elementary (4*)
– McAuliffe Elementary (1*)
– Muir Elementary (1*)
– Northstar Middle (1*)
– Redmond Elementary (2*)
– Redmond Middle School (1*)
– Redmond High School (2*)
– Renaissance Middle School (1*)
– Rosa Parks Elementary (1*)
– Rush Elementary (1*)
None
NorthshoreYELLOW– Arrowhead Elementary (3)
– Bothell High School (31)
– Canyon Creek Elementary (26)
– Canyon Park Middle School (6)
– Cottage Lake Elementary (3)
– Crystal Springs Elementary (28)
– East Ridge Elementary (14)
– Fernwood Elementary (1)
– Frank Love Elementary (9)
– Hollywood Hills Elementary (27)
– Inglemoor High School (1)
– Innovation Lab High School (1)
– Kenmore Elementary (3)
– Kenmore Middle School (23)
– Leota Middle School (4)
– Lockwood Elementary (37**)
– Maywood Hills Elementary (28)
– North Creek High School (4)
– Northshore Family Partnership (30)
– Northshore Middle School (2)
– Secondary Academy for Success (4)
– Shelton View Elementary (5)
– Skyview Middle School (12)
– Sunrise Elementary (9)
– Timbercrest Middle School (8)
– Wellington Elementary (21)
– Westhill Elementary (41)
– Woodin Elementary (16**)
– Woodinville High School (11)
– Woodmoor Elementary (11)
None
Local Districts Scorecard – * indicates positive cases only ** indicates 5 or more confirmed positive cases

We redefined the school district statuses. Information for classroom and building closures has been a challenge to obtain, both for closures and reopening. We are adopting moving any school with more than 10 active COVID cases reported into the red, and we’ve adjusted the third column to reflect this change.

Bellevue School District added a 7th confirmed Covid-19 case at Bellevue High School and reported six confirmed cases at Highland Middle School.

The Northshore School District added multiple schools to their report. Lockwood Elementary reported six confirmed cases overnight, putting another 31 students and faculty into quarantine.

The Lake Washington School District updates its Covid-19 dashboard once a week. We received multiple parents confirmed Covid-19 e-mails yesterday. However, Lake Washington updates its dashboards on Monday, and we can’t ensure if the parental reports add to the dashboard numbers or are included in the Monday report.

We continued to encourage parents to request improved daily data reporting from the Lake Washington School District.

Kirkland-Bellevue-Woodinville

The City of Kirkland has rolled out additional phases of its COVID-19 relief program to provide immediate financial assistance for small businesses, thanks to funding available through the American Rescue Plan Act. A limited number of $1,000 to $10,000 grants are now available for small Kirkland-based businesses behind on rent for the commercial properties they lease. To start the application process, businesses should go to www.kirklandwa.gov/business-help to complete and submit the intake form between October 5 – October 19, 2021. Program funds may only be used as a payment against a small business tenant’s past-due rent due to COVID-19 economic hardship experienced between March 1, 2020, to September 30, 2021. Note that the application process requires the cooperation of tenants and landlords, and payments will be made to the landlord.

“The pandemic has had a profound impact on many of our businesses, making it difficult for some to keep up with rent and stay in their current locations,” said Deputy Mayor Jay Arnold. “Our hope is that by passing federal relief funding directly to businesses and landlords that these businesses can get the foothold they need to thrive in our Kirkland community.”

For questions about the small business rent relief grant program, contact businesssupport@kirklandwa.gov  (425) 587-3266 or the City’s Business Response Team at (206) 686-3424.

National Round-Up

Johns Hopkins University Cumulative Case Tracker is reporting 167,209 new cases and 2,106 deaths nationwide. Tuesday’s update will include numbers from over the weekend.

CDC pulls holiday travel guidance from website

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Monday took down a page with holiday COVID-19 guidance, saying it was old information posted in error and that updated guidance would be coming soon, according to a report in The Hill.

The page, updated on Friday, gave a range of guidance on holiday gatherings, including that opening windows for indoor gatherings would improve ventilation and noting that virtual or outdoor gatherings are the safest option.

An agency spokesperson said the page “doesn’t reflect the CDC’s guidance ahead of this upcoming holiday season” and added that the agency “will share additional guidance soon.”

At home Covid-19 rapid test recalled due to excessive false positives

The Australian company, Ellume, recalled over 400,000 rapid test kits sold in the United States for an unacceptable level of false positives. The test kits were shipped from April to August, and currently, 200,000 kits remain unused.

In a statement on Ellume’s website, the company wrote, “we noted an increased chance that Ellume COVID-19 Home Tests from specific lots may provide an incorrect positive result. Following a thorough investigation, we isolated the cause and confirmed that this incidence of false positives is limited to specific lots.”

“We worked with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to voluntarily remove affected Ellume tests from the market. Importantly, the reliability of negative results is unaffected by this issue and are not included within this recall.”

In parallel, the FDA released a “Safety Communication” outlining the recall. People who have used one of the Ellume tests and believe they had a false reading are asked to report the incident to MedWatch.

Almost 99% of all Kaiser Permanente employees get vaccinated

Kaiser Permanente has placed more than 2,200 of its employees nationwide, who have refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19, on unpaid administrative leave.

The health care company announced its vaccine mandate on August 2, with a deadline of Sept. 30. It has more than 220,000 employees across the country, with suspensions impacting about 1% of its entire workforce.

Over 98% of Northwell Health employees get vaccinated

New York State’s largest private hospital system laid off 1,400 workers who wouldn’t get vaccinated against Covid-19, a spokesperson for the health care network confirmed Monday afternoon.

Hospital and nursing home workers were required to get at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by September 27th, under a state mandate first announced in mid-August. Last week, Northwell said it started warning employees and planned layoffs, starting with the highest-paid workers who refused the shots.

The hospital system employed over 76,000 workers, with 98.2% getting vaccinated.

8,000 New York City Department of Education employees on unpaid leave

Almost 95% of New York City’s more than 148,000 Department of Education employees have received at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The vaccination rate among teachers exceeded 96%. City leaders reported they don’t anticipate staffing shortages for teachers, while other departments were hit harder.

Approximately 500 cafeteria workers have been put on unpaid leave. Employees on leave who get vaccinated after the deadline can return to work. Additionally, employees that volunteer to quit will be provided healthcare coverage by the city for a year.

Department of Justice addresses violent threats against school officials and teachers

Citing an increase in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school board members, teachers, and workers in our nation’s public schools, today Attorney General Merrick B. Garland directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to meet in the next 30 days with federal, state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement leaders to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend. These sessions will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response by law enforcement.   

“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” wrote Attorney General Garland. “Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety.”

According to the Attorney General’s memorandum, the Justice Department will launch a series of additional efforts in the coming days designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel. Those efforts are expected to include the creation of a task force, consisting of representatives from the department’s Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service, and the Office of Justice Programs, to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes and ways to assist state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement where threats of violence may not constitute federal crimes.

The Justice Department will also create specialized training and guidance for local school boards and school administrators. This training will help school board members and other potential victims understand the type of behavior that constitutes threats, how to report threatening conduct to the appropriate law enforcement agencies, and how to capture and preserve evidence of threatening conduct to aid in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes.

As the anti-vaccination and medical freedom movement has gotten smaller, some elements within the movements have become increasingly radicalized. School board meetings have been disrupted nationwide, including the Lake Washington School District. In other communities, fights have broken out in meetings, board members have received death threats, stalked, doxxed, and had their homes vandalized.

Alaska

The mayor of Alaska’s largest city apologized Thursday for his comments supporting some residents’ use of Holocaust imagery to liken a proposed citywide mask mandate to the oppression of Jewish people in Nazi Germany, the Associated Press reported.

Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson has said he staunchly opposes the proposal and initially defended the use of yellow Stars of David worn by other critics this week at heated public hearings. Such imagery has been used by opponents of mask and vaccine mandates across the U.S., drawing condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish organizations.

New cases in Alaska still lead the nation but have declined significantly from last week. The state is still operating under “crisis standards of care” with 194 Covid-19 patients statewide. Alaska has 122 staffed ICU beds statewide, with 19 available.

Hospitals in Anchorage, Bethel, and Valdez continue to be the most impacted by the ongoing surge.

Officials are also concerned by a rising test positivity rate, which is just below 10%.

Idaho

Editor’s Note: I must maintain objectivity. I must maintain objectivity. I must maintain objectivity. I must maintain objectivity.

While his state struggles to deliver medical services and deal with the mounting number of corpses, Idaho governor Brad Little departed the state to visit the U.S.-Mexico border. According to a report by KTVB, less than 24 hours after he left, Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin signed an executive order as acting governor banning vaccine passports or mandatory Covid-19 testing at K-12 schools and universities in Idaho.

In a tweet, McGeachin wrote that she “fixed” Little’s executive order on vaccine passports, which was initially issued in April, to include K-12 schools and universities.

Less than ten minutes after McGeachin announced her executive order, Little responded on Twitter, stating he did not authorize McGeachin to act on his behalf and “I will be rescinding and reversing any actions taken by the Lt. Governor when I return.”

McGeachin also tried to activate the National Guard to deploy Idaho troops, already assisting with the Covid-19 surge, to the Mexico border. According to The Independent, the commanding general of the Idaho National Guard told McGeachin she can’t activate troops to send to the U.S.-Mexico border.

Governor Little issues a terse statement late on Tuesday.

“Attempting to deploy our National Guard for political grandstanding is an affront to the Idaho constitution [sic] and insults the men and women who have dedicated their life to serving our state and the country.”

This isn’t the first time McGeachin has pulled this type of political stunt, as she postures herself as the candidate that Idaho deserves in the upcoming 2022 election.

If you’re wondering why McGeachin is blocking school testing, Kathryn Turner, deputy state epidemiologist, reported the state was allocating $4 million to 19 school districts to aid Covid-19 testing programs. McGeachin’s order, temporary or not, blocks that money.

As of October 2, Idaho had a record 15 pediatric patients fighting Covid-19.

Idaho added 1,835 new cases on Tuesday and reported 11 deaths. The number of hospital beds within the state has improved slightly, Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said on Tuesday. He added improving bed availability could be, in part, attributed to the high number of deaths recently.

In a briefing on Tuesday, Jeppesen reported 89.1% of all Covid-19 cases are among the unvaccinated, 90.3% of hospitalizations, and 88% of deaths. Officials said that despite the intervention of volunteers, the National Guard, federal resources, and FEMA strike teams, staffing levels remain at crisis standards of care levels.

“Due to COVID patient volume added to non-COVID urgent patient care, we have been forced to care for patients in repurposed clinical areas and a non-clinical space (a hospital gym),” Dr. Steven Nemerson of St. Luke’s Hospital told the Idaho Statesman in an e-mail. The system has been “using ratios of patients to health care team members exceeding contingency standards of care despite staffing resources received through the state of Idaho and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency).”

May the odds ever be in your favor.

Montana

While Alaska appears to have peaked and Idaho is on a plateau, Montana continues to deteriorate. According to the Billings Gazette, the state has 11,498 active cases, with 419 people hospitalized.

Despite activating the National Guard, asking for FEMA strike teams, and the Veteran’s Administration opening up a hospital to civilians, eight out of 10 large hospitals in the state reported having limited bed availability or nearing capacity. Likewise, eight out of 10 large hospitals reported having limited intensive care unit availability or nearing ICU capacity. 

New York

A video caught the men in Union Square flipping over a table next to a mobile coronavirus testing van, tearing down the tent erected next to it and tossing a chair, before police intervened to stop them permanently destroying any property, according to a report in The Independent.

Protesters at the rally shouted “boo” and “shame on you” at the staff member working at the Covid-19 testing site as they went past, followed by chants of “no vaccine mandate.”

Hundreds of Department of Education staffers were involved in the protest, following the coronavirus vaccine mandate that went into place on Monday.

Wyoming

On September 16, Republican lightning rod, state senator, Ivermectin enthusiast, and 2022 Congressional candidate Anthony Bouchard assembled a panel to discuss Covid-19 vaccine mandates at hospitals. The esteemed group of top experts included Ryne Paulson, D.D.S., Melissa Hieb D.O., Andrew McAfee M.D., and Dena L’Heureux M.D. All four spouted conspiracy theories and anti-vaccination rhetoric and claimed they would medicine if the state passed a vaccine mandate. All of this was political theater if any providers accept or work for an organization that receives federal dollars.

How well is that going?

The Wyoming Medical Center in Casper reported they admitted 17 Covid-19 patients – in 24 hours from Saturday to Sunday. Only one of the recently admitted patients is vaccinated. Wyoming added 627 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, in a state with 578,000 residents. If that pace holds, almost 1% of all Wyomingians will catch Covid-19 this week. Test positivity on Monday was over 18%, which is down from last week.

The state reported 45 new Covid-19 related deaths and breaching 1,000 total deaths since the pandemic started in 2020. Put another way, 1.7% of the entire population of Wyoming has died from Covid-19.

Like Alaska, Montana, and Idaho, hospitals are tipping over into “crisis standards of care.” Cody Regional Health and Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County reported they continue to move from “contingency care” to “crisis standards of care” as the situation changes.

Rural hospitals in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska are dependent on larger hospitals in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Utah to take more challenging patients. Oregon and Washington barely avoided moving to crisis standards of care last month, while Colorado and Utah are dealing with their surges. With interstate transfers gridlocked, states like Wyoming, which only has 37 hospitals, have been forced to make do with their resources.

Misinformation

Taking the day off

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