While we continue to do a tremendous job in vaccinating Washington State against COVID-19, our case rates continue to rise as the Delta variant spreads around the world. While we continue to do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19, we must also reach out to those around us who have not yet received a vaccination against the virus.
In recent weeks, case rates in Washington State have surged to new highs, exceeding anything that we have previously experienced throughout the pandemic. It’s incredibly important that we follow current CDC guidelines – masking up when we’re indoors and maintaining six feet of distance whenever possible – to lower our risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
This all might seem scary, and it certainly warrants all of us taking this seriously, there is still good news to share! The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that they have fully approved the Pfizer0BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, making it the first of the three vaccinations currently in use in the United States to gain full FDA approval.
If you or someone you know were waiting for full FDA approval to get vaccinated against COVID-19, now is the time!
Recent data from MultiCare indicates that 95% of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in their facilities are not vaccinated and getting vaccinated is the best step you can take to protect yourself and those around you. If you need more information about the vaccines or where to get them, check out the Department of Health’s online resource here.
Thank you to everyone who has already been vaccinated and thank you everyone for the sacrifices you have made to protect our communities against COVID-19.
Keep reading for more on this Fantastic Friday.
“Stay Safe, Stay Healthy”
Rep. Debra Lekanoff
What celestial body will be particularly visible in the night sky in early September?
Utility Moratorium Update
Friends, at the end of this month the proclamation declaring an emergency moratorium on any shut-offs of water, electricity, or natural gas is set to end. Estimates show that more than 500,000 Washingtonians have overdue bills that could result in their services being shut off, and anyone who is in that situation should contact their utilities provider as soon as possible.
Getting in touch with your providers will give you the chance to make a plan to keep your services on while your bills are paid off. More information is available in 36 languages at commerce.wa.gov/utility-assistance.
Options that customers can ask about include:
- Payment plans. Most utilities are able to set up payment plans over several months for customers to pay past-due balances.
- Financial assistance. Some utilities are able to offset a portion of a customer’s past-due balance and reduce the amount owed.
- Federal assistance. Low-income households might qualify for federal energy and water assistance programs. These programs are called LIHEAP (low-income heating and energy assistance program) and LIHWAP (low-income household water assistance program). Utilities can advise customers on how to contact local organizations that are managing applications for these programs on behalf of the Department of Commerce.
This is a difficult time for many in our community, and there are resources available to help. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out.
Policing Legislation Update
Last month we talked about the legislative action that our Legislature took to pass a package of bills designed to improve policing in Washington State, and how the bills have been misrepresented.
The bills are intended tow work together to establish clear expectations for every officer and their behavior, setting a baseline for acceptable use of force and putting systems of accountability and transparency in place.
Our dedicated and selfless public servants in law enforcement are undoubtedly able to rise to the challenge of prioritizing de-escalation and limiting their use of force while providing everyone in our community with the public safety they expect and deserve.
I am confident that these reforms will help to improve our safety in Washington State, as well as improve faith and trust in law enforcement. If you’d to read more about these bills and some of the misrepresentations of them that are out there, check out www.truthinwashington.com.
Department of Defense Request for Feedback
The Department of Defense Office of Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) is currently seeking input on military aircraft noise mitigation, and is requesting that affected communities adjacent to specific military installations, including Ault Field and OLF Coupeville, provide feedback
Make sure your voice is heard! If you or someone you know is in one of the affected communities, speak out and provide your input on this important issue. Comments are due on their web form by October 4, 2021.
Submit your feedback here: https://forms.office.com/g/3pp0UCdArk
Cybersecurity at Whatcom Community College
Last week, Dr. Kathi Hiyane-Brown, President of Whatcom Community College, represented the country’s community and technical colleges at a White House summit on national cybersecurity. President Biden, members of his cabinet and national security team, and private sector and education leaders met to discuss how to work collectively to fight malicious cyber activity.
President Hiyane-Brown was invited to attend the summit because of Whatcom Community College’s nationally recognized leadership in the area of cybersecurity.
Dr. Hiyane-Brown at the White House summit
The National Science Foundation has designated Whatcom Community College as the new Advanced Technological Education National Cybersecurity Center, which focuses on building a comprehensive network of education institutions, businesses and government agencies to expand and sustain a robust cybersecurity workforce.
Congratulations to President Hiyane-Brown and Whatcom Community College! Thank you for leading the way on national cybersecurity, and for doing an incredible job educating our children and students. We are all looking forward to the great things you will accomplish and promote in the future!
An Update on Native Mascots
Over the past few months we have talked a number of times about the importance of ending Native mascots across the country, and right here in Washington State we have taken strong action to make that a reality.
The use of these stereotypes as mascots has widespread impacts on our Native youth and their self image – removing them across the board is an easy step to take to support the generations that are following behind us, and to help them grow with confidence.
Recently, the National Congress of American Indians updated their State Activity Tracker to include Ohio after lawmakers introduced a resolution encouraging schools in the state to discontinue use of Native “themed” mascots on August 11.
The resolution calls on schools that use Native mascots to engage with tribal nations and Native organizations to start the mascot change process, and to continue to lean on them for support during the entire proceeding.
It truly is incredibly important that we take every step to remove this harmful and outdated practice across the country. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished here in Washington State, and will continue working to make it a reality in every community in this country.
Ryan Walters for Mayor of Anacortes
Serving on the Anacortes City Council since 2011, Ryan has long been champion for the people of the city. He has spearheaded a number of great projects, including the development of a strategic plan for promoting tourism in the city. He is a dedicated public servant who will be a strong Mayor for the people of Anacortes.
As we look to our future and continue working to help the next seven generations to come, it’s important that we elect dedicated individuals who are ready to do the work necessary to help our communities.
Ryan Walters for Anacortes Mayor!
Ryan is absolutely one of those individuals, and I am proud to endorse his campaign to be the next Mayor of Anacortes. He will do an incredible job, always working on behalf of the people of Anacortes and putting their wellbeing above all else.
I truly hope that he can count on your support – for more information about his campaign, click here.
Venus will be especially bright just above the horizon over the next few weeks! Check out this article from the Seattle Times for more information.