Eliza Myers – Reporter
Washington state should enter into a statewide lockdown in order to curve the new, record-high number of COVID-19 cases. As of Dec. 15, in Washington state, there are a total of 205,069 COVID-19 cases and 2,953 deaths.
Hospitalizations, new cases and deaths have only increased as we enter the holiday season. Therefore, a full shutdown should be implemented throughout the month of December in order to curve the spiking number of cases.
In addition to face coverings and social distancing, a full shutdown of the state would involve the complete closure of all non-essential buildings. There would be no dining in at restaurants, no public or private gatherings, no in-person school, houses of worship would be closed and entertainment services would be unavailable. Additionally, a two week quarantine period for all people entering the state would be implemented.
“We are, today, in a more dangerous position than we were in March when our first stay-at-home order was issued,” said Gov. Jay Inslee in a news conference on Nov. 15.
Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy discussed the fact that if this increase continues, hospital capacities will be over their limits for patients with or without COVID-19. Hospitals struggling to find space for patients would be forced to turn patients away. In extreme situations, care would be rationed depending on a patient’s chance of survival. This will eventually lead to an increase in the deaths of citizens in the state.
Social distancing and required face masks alone will not be able to stop case numbers from climbing, further action needs to be taken to protect the health of the residents of Washington.
Using the argument that another state lockdown would increase the unemployment rates can be persuasive, however, according to Inslee’s current statewide restrictions, the state is granting $70 million in business support grants, $30 million for the recovery loan program, $20 million for rental assistance and $15 million for energy bills for low-income households.
Proceeding forward with the state shutdown would contribute to the decrease of COVID-19 cases in the state of Washington. Correspondingly, the people who are vulnerable would be protected and loved ones would be safe. Protecting what’s most valuable will need to be prioritized when reflecting on the debated concept of a state shutdown. Ultimately, this means protecting the health of the citizens of Washington by going through with a state lockdown for the holiday season.
Firefighters, police officers and paramedics are all essential workers on the front lines but aren’t the only ones vulnerable to COVID-19 due to the number of people they interact with.
Fast-food workers and other restaurant employees are susceptible to Coronavirus because of the constant interaction they have with customers. These workers aren’t deemed as the poster-children for essential workers. To shut down the state, a stimulus package would need to be created in order to support workers who would see their job closed during the lockdown and the many others who are struggling during this pandemic.
According to an article from the Washington Post, “About 87 percent of fast-food workers lack employer health benefits, compared with 40 percent of the general workforce.”
The Washington State Department of Health said that there’ve been 12,773 hospitalizations due to COVID-19. In Pierce County alone, there’ve been 21,821 cases, 1,633 hospitalizations and 292 deaths.
“And, as it (COVID-19) moves into more vulnerable age groups, I am very concerned that hospitalizations and deaths will continue to increase,” said John Wiesman, secretary of health for Washington state, in a statement from the Department of Health, “our actions matter: stay home, keep distance and wear a face covering. We all need to take this responsibility seriously and limit our activity to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
Looking at the situation as a whole, an evaluation of what is most important to humanity needs to occur.
Jayden Fenske – Reporter
As economic hardships escalate during the pandemic and vaccine research advances, a full lockdown shouldn’t be implemented in Washington state as it would only make matters worse for employment opportunities, education for children and essential expenses like housing.
Various companies, including Pfizer and Moderna, have been working towards finding an effective COVID-19 vaccine. Although vaccine development often takes 10 to 15 years, these companies are on schedule to complete the process in just one year.
According to Pfizer, data analysis has shown that their vaccine, BNT162b2, is 95% successful in their intended result. Moderna also noted having successful vaccine testing. On Nov. 16, Moderna reported having a vaccine efficacy of 94.5%, which was verified by the National Institutes of Health’s appointed Data Safety Monitoring Board.
Though others think closing non-essential businesses is the best way to control the pandemic, in reality, this plan contributes to significant job loss. This has especially impacted the employment of those who are in the service industry, including gyms, retail stores and restaurants.
According to an email from the Washington Hospitality Association to the Northwest News Network, less than 0.5% of COVID-19 cases have been traced to restaurants. Also, the heavy restrictions on restaurants could result in 100,000 hospitality workers losing their jobs during the holiday season.
As a result of the economic difficulties of the pandemic, many Americans are struggling to make ends meet. Census data from October highlighted that one-third of American adults are struggling to pay for common household expenses.
Children are also affected by the current financial hardships of their parents. According to the census data, between 9 to 14% of adults with children said that their children didn’t eat enough within the last week since they couldn’t afford it.
K-12 schools are using technology for remote learning to teach students, which has presented major issues. According to a report in November from EdTech, a magazine that explores technology and education issues, 34% of educators said that their school lacks effective technology strategies for successful learning.
The pandemic has also made it more difficult for young adults to find employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that for people ages 18 to 19, the unemployment rate in November 2020 was 1.7% higher compared to 11.7% in November 2019.
The $600 a week CARES Act unemployment aid expires on Dec. 31. The next unemployment aid bill possibly won’t be passed until two to three months after that time, which would leave many without financial assistance. According to a Deutsche Bank representative, the next $750 billion fiscal package will be legislated by the first quarter of 2021.
The first lockdowns issued in March and April resulted in 20.5 million jobs lost and a rise in unemployment rates to 14.7% by the end of April. Another lockdown would just contribute to more job loss and a rise in unemployment rates, as it did earlier this year.
Overall, the decision of whether Washington state continues to shutdown is in the hands of the governor. Given the circumstances of the pandemic, Washingtonians and the government should work together to create a blueprint for refining the economic instability.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost