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COVID-19 Q&A, Economic Recovery, and the Green Amendment

Happy Fantastic Friday!

Thank you for your continued diligence as we continue to navigate the rise in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths here in our communities. We must all work together to remain vigilant and take the necessary precautions to keep ourselves, our families, and our neighbors safe.

Earlier this week, we were pleased to see the FDA approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as well as the use of an additional dose of Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines in certain immunocompromised individuals.

We hope these milestones continue to demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the vaccines and that getting vaccinated is the quickest and most effective way to overcome this pandemic.

For help finding an appointment, use the Washington State Department of Health Vaccine Locator or call 1-800-525-0127, then press #. Language assistance is available.

Thank you to those who remain on the frontline

This week, we met with PeaceHealth to discuss hospital care service levels, COVID-19 updates and response, and hospitals’ efforts around equity. For hospitals, we know August 2021 has been an immense challenge with the latest surge in COVID-19 cases causing stress on the hospital delivery system. Hospitals across the state face significant workforce shortages and delays in patient discharges that are causing a lack of capacity in our hospital systems. We want to send our sincerest thank you to our healthcare providers and first responders, who we know have been impacted by people who continue to resist the vaccine and mask mandates.

“It’s being at the front lines for an 18-month period, day and night, seeing your colleagues fall sick and working longer shifts. It’s hard. It is very, very hard, to be a physician right now, a nurse, a CNA, a lab tech, a radiology tech, because we are — everybody is — kind of exhausted.” Dr. Sudhakar Karlapudi of St. Joseph Hospital who is also PeaceHealth’s chief medical officer for the Northwest region. (Read more in this Bellingham Herald article)

On Tuesday, August 31st at 12pm, you can tune in for a live COVID-19 Q&A with medical professionals from St. Joseph hospital. RSVP for the event here.

Skagit County COVID-19 testing and vaccination

“Skagit County will reopen its COVID-19 testing and vaccination site at the Skagit County Fairgrounds on August 30th. This site is being reopened because of sharp increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as well as pending state vaccine mandates that may increase the demand for vaccinations. Tests and vaccinations will be available 5 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday at the fairgrounds’ south entrance, 501 Taylor St., Mount Vernon, according to a news release from the county. The tests and vaccinations will be free.” Skagit Valley Herald

For the most up to date COVID-19 information, please visit: 

Economic Recovery

As we have seen over the last year and a half, the pandemic has exacerbated many of the challenges and disparities our communities face including access to affordable healthcare, childcare, housing, broadband, economic security, and equity. As we work towards pandemic recovery, my office will continue to convene roundtables bringing together our local, state, federal, and tribal governments and community leaders to find solutions that work for all. We have a lot to do in preparation for the 2022 legislative session, and we are ready to roll up our sleeves.

Addressing the Childcare Crisis

Last week, we convened a roundtable with local government and community leaders to discuss the dire childcare crisis in San Juan County and its impacts to rural economic recovery and equity in the workplace. With limited staff, facilities, and resources, families find themselves unable to access childcare and are forced to make difficult decisions. While San Juan County as an island community is unique, the lack of affordable and quality childcare is an issue felt throughout our 40th district and across the state. Addressing the childcare crisis will be critical to our rural and economic recovery.

Infrastructure

We are excited to see the Senate passed a $550 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes historic investment in transportation and water infrastructure, salmon recovery, ecosystem restoration, combatting wildfires and climate change, and modernization of our energy grid. These investments will create jobs and spur economic prosperity for years to come.

“We’re authorizing federal funding for megaprojects so that we can complete those crucial multimodal projects that are too expensive for states to handle on their own. We’re authorizing at-grade rail crossing replacement because they are safety and congestion hazards in the northwest. And we’re authorizing funding for the removal and replacement of culverts so we can work to restore the salmon runs that are so important to the Pacific Northwest. This bill is going to create thousands of jobs all across the State of Washington, and it will allow us to better compete in the global economy while also improving people’s quality of life.”-Senator Maria Cantwell

To learn more about the federal infrastructure package, and some of the major wins for Washington State, visit Senator Cantwell’s website here.

Upcoming Event: Green Amendment

We have been fighting for a cleaner environment for decades, and with the rapidly increasing effects of climate change hitting everyone and everywhere, we now need to step up our game. We know that our current laws support the old fossil fuel infrastructure, so in order to move more quickly into a new, clean, and sustainable future, we need to update them to enhance and encourage all of our ongoing efforts.

One pathway is to start at the top, with our State and Federal Constitutions, which guide and define all aspects of government decision-making. 13 states across the nation, including Washington, are rising up to advance Green Amendments, or constitutional amendments added to the Bill of Rights section of a state constitution, which recognize and protect the inalienable rights of all people to pure water, clean air, a stable climate and healthy environments—regardless of race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status and including future generations.

Join me in welcoming Maya van Rossum, national expert and Founder of Green Amendments For The Generations, for a presentation and Q&A on the power of a Washington State Green Amendment (HJR 4205) to transform how we think about and pursue environmental protection and environmental justice from both a policy and legal perspective.

Register at: https://bit.ly/WAGreenAmendmentWebinar

Thank you all for taking to the time to read this week’s Fantastic Friday, and for taking an interest in our progress at the House of Representatives. Now that we’re into the summer months, I will be sending out an official Fantastic Friday twice a month, with two weeks on and two weeks off.

Please feel free to reach out to me using the information below, with any questions, inquiries, or concerns you may have.

I am here for you!

All best wishes,


Rep. Debra Lekanoff