Pierce Pioneer

Washington State passes its first Capital Gains tax

The home of America’s two wealthiest men now has its first capital gains tax. 

Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5096 on May 4 that taxes the asset revenues of up to 18,000 residents. The new law is effective January 2022. 

The law imposes a 7% tax on the sale of stocks, bonds and other high-end assets over $250,000 for both individuals and couples, and is expected to bring in $500 million in 2023 and upwards of a billion dollars from 2025-27. 

Retirement accounts, real estate, farms and forestry would be exempt from the proposed tax. Also, qualified taxpayers will be allowed to deduct up to $100,000 a year from their capital gains if they made more than $250,000 in charitable donations in the same tax year.

Washington state was deemed the “least equitable” tax system of any state by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in a 2018 report. In light of this fact, Democrat lawmakers have focused on creating a tax system that would produce funds for K-12 schools and child care programs.

According to  one of the bill’s lead sponsors, Washington’s wealth inequality has led to rampant homelessness and less access to education and opportunities. 

“This is a way to invest in people, a way to invest in infrastructure and the needs we have in order to make people successful,” said Sen. Joe Nguyen.

Opponents to the new law challenged that the bill is unconstitutional based on the Washington Supreme Court decision against an income tax in 1933. The court’s decision determined that income, once received, became an asset, therefore the income tax was a property tax rather than an excise tax. 

Under the state constitution, property tax rates must be uniform across any type of property, so a graduated income tax was seen as a nonuniform property tax.

Former Attorney General Rob Mckenna has joined the second lawsuit against this tax on the grounds of its unconstitutionality. 

“Every taxing authority in the country, including the IRS and all other state revenue departments, agrees that capital gains are income,” the lawsuit reads. “Most states tax capital gains as ordinary income subject to the state’s income tax rates. Neither the federal government nor any other state levies an excise tax on capital gains.”

Yet, proponents of the bill suggest that the measure is a tax on the sale or exchange of assets such as stock and bonds. If the owner doesn’t choose to sell their assets then they will not be taxed on this exchange, therefore classifying it as an excise tax rather than a property tax.

Looking back at how tensions escalated in the holy land

April 13 is known to the Muslim world as the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. Coincidentally, April 13 is also known as Memorial Day in Israel, as they mourn the deaths of soldiers who fought for the nation. This coinciding date sparked the first attribution to the start of the recent resurgence in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. 

That night, Arabs gathered in worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, a sacred sight of Islam. A muezzin recited the ritual call to prayer over the loudspeakers of the compound, where thousands of Muslims gathered. Below the compound at the Western Wall, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin prepared to give a speech in commemoration of Memorial Day in front of an inn. 

According to officials of the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, a Jordanian agency that oversees Jerusalem’s holy sites, Israeli police demanded that they shut off their loudspeakers as the Israeli’s wanted quiet for soldiers who were praying at the neighboring Western Wall. The agency refused, and police stormed the compound, broke locks, and cut electrical speaker wires, causing outrage amongst Palestinians, Arabs, and the Jordanian government.

This incident may have rolled over in previous years, but shortly after the first night of Ramadan was interrupted, Israeli forces decided to shut down the compound’s Damascus Gate due to Covid-19 gathering concerns and a rise in protests in the area. This location is popular for young Palestinian men to gather during Ramadan after breaking their fast and is often a site for public demonstrations, furthering the outrage amongst the East Jerusalem residents.

A combination of a long-lasting housing conflict, Israeli treatment of Ramadan, and rising radicals on both sides helped facilitate the recent clash in the holy land. 

In the following weeks, protests sparked amongst the Israeli police, Palestinian protestors, and Nationalist Jewish groups across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. According to The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights, over 1,000 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli forces, killing dozens of Palestinians and several Jewish Israelis. The majority of the riots and protests occurred near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where much of the current conflict originated. 

Another contribution to the rise in conflict was the surrounding tension behind the scheduled court rulings of evicting six families in the Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem. The conflict over land dispute goes back to the 1870s when a Jewish trust purchased land in the district from Arabs in Ottoman-controlled Palestine. After the Arab-Israeli War in 1948, the land was controlled by Jordan and then housed Arab families in the area years after, as Jewish residents were expelled from East Jerusalem. 

However, the control of Sheik Jarrah would change hands once more in 1967 following the Six-Day War between Arabs and Israelis. In the 1970s, Israel passed and exercised laws that allowed for previous landowners before 1948 to reclaim their property rights as rightful owners. Tenants could stay and live in the district if they paid rent to the Israeli owner, but evictions have been issued over the last three decades as housing developments have been proposed and built where Palestinian families currently reside. 

In 2021, the Israeli Supreme Court is set to make its decision on whether to evict these six families on July 20, after being postponed in May. The attempt to evict them after they refused to pay rent and built on the property illegally. Over 1,000 Palestinians currently face eviction in East Jerusalem. 

The third contributing factor in the rise in hostility was the May 7 raid of the Al-Aqsa Mosque once more, which held 70,000 worshipers in attendance. Israeli police cleared the site in preparation for Jerusalem Day, where Jews gather and march through the Old City where historic temples once laid. 

Thousands stayed after worship to protest, using stun grenades and rubber bullets, leaving 136 people wounded and 83 hospitalized. Palestinian protesters threw chairs, shoes, rocks, and waved Hamas flags as violence continued to escalate.

Over the next few days, Hamas would fire over 1,000 rockets, 850 of those crossing into Israel territory, and over 200 misfirings, landing in Gaza. The 11-day conflict took the lives of 242 people in the Gaza Strip and 12 people in Israel, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This would become the most violent uprising between the two forces in years, leaving thousands homeless and thousands more to mourn the death of loved ones.

What we learned from Fauci’s emails

Buzzfeed posted on June 1 more than 3,200 pages of emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, which allows the public to access documents or other data possessed by government agencies or public authorities. The Washington Post obtained more than 800 pages and published a story highlighting what reporters found.

 

The emails span from January to June 2020 and give a glimpse into the mind of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director. According to the emails, he communicated with a variety of health officials, reporters and billionaires.      

 

Fauci coordinated with Facebook to promote COVID-19 guidance

During the last year, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter made it a priority to censor or debunk fake news on their sites. This year, Facebook announced that it would increase efforts to remove false information regarding vaccines and vaccine hesitancy. Shortly after, the company retracted its previous censorship of claims that COVID-19 was man-made after the Biden administration announced it was investigating the origins of the virus. 

 

Dr. Fauci’s emails revealed coordination between himself and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. On March 15, Zuckerberg invited Dr. Fauci to join a Facebook live stream or produce a video for the newly developed Coronavirus Information Hub. 

 

The CEO planned to feature health experts who represent authoritative information rather than listen to other agencies and political leaders.

 

“This isn’t public yet, but we’re building a Coronavirus Information Hub that we’re going to put at the top of Facebook for everyone (200+ million Americans, 2.5 billion people worldwide) with two goals: (1) make sure people can get authoritative information from reliable sources and (2) encourage people to practice social distance and give people ideas for doing this using internet tools,” Zuckerberg wrote. “This will be live within the next 48 hours.”

 

In his response, Dr. Fauci accepted the offer. 

 

“Your idea and proposal sound terrific. I would be happy to do a video for your hub,” Fauci wrote. “We need to reach as many people as possible and convince them to take mitigation strategies seriously or things will get much, much worse. Also, your idea about [REDACTED] is very exciting.”

 

Fauci was warned the virus looked engineered
Kristian G. Andersen who runs a viral genomics lab at Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif. attached an article titled “Mining coronavirus genomes for clues to the outbreak’s origins,” citing it for its research on the origins and potential mutations of the virus from bats.

 

On the contrary, Dr. Fauci noted the virus’s abnormal features suggested that there is more involved than bats. 

 

“On a phylogenetic tree the virus looks totally normal and the close clustering with bats suggests that bats serve as the reservoir,” he wrote. “The unusual features of the virus make up a really small part of the genome (<0.1%) so one has to look really closely at all the sequences to see that some of the features (potentially) look engineered.”

 

Andersen continued by writing that all find the genome inconsistent with expectations from evolutionary theory but added that further analyses needs to be done, so those opinions could change.

 

Furthermore, Dr. Fauci’s emails revealed he attached several documents titled “SARS Gain of Function” suggesting he had some knowledge of such research. In multiple testimonies to Congress, the NIAID director has denied gain of function research was funded by his agency at the Wuhan Lab of Virology. 

 

Fauci disregarded an email highlighting a CCP cover-up

In a long email sent to Dr. Fauci by Erik Nilsen, co-founder and chief executive officer at Bio-Signal Technologies in Texas, dove into his theories behind the Chinese government coverup of the COVID-19 outbreak. He pointed to his accredited experience of working with many connections to China through business, friendship and virology institutions.

 

Nilsen said China stopped its COVID-19 death count on Jan. 7, 2020, and pointed to its motive to fabricate and skew the daily data to “save face.” Chinese Communist Party officials wanted to mislead the world and their people that they were flattening the curve when that was not the case. Instead, the government locked down the city of Wuhan and allowed other citizens to travel nationwide or around the world.

 

Additionally, Nilsen believed that COVID-19 had already spread to the United States in late November or early December. Fauci replied that the email was too long to read.

 

Fauci was aware of therapeutics early in the pandemic

In the same email, Nilsen brought up some conflicting ideas to Dr. Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization by writing he advised his family to acquire Alvesco (ciclesonide) for emergency use only. 

 

“I’ve been told by colleagues on the front-line in Japan, China and Korea, and found several pre-print papers, that it is an effective treatment for late-stage COVID-19 patients,” he wrote. “Some patients on ventilators who were approaching death have fully recovered after treatment with ciclesonide; ciclesonide has much smaller particles than other corticosteroids so it reaches deeper into lungs and alveolis).”

 

Furthermore, Nilsen advised his family and friends to obtain hydroxychloroquine, a drug authorized by the FDA to treat malaria, Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Dr. Fauci, the media and Facebook all denounced the usage of hydroxychloroquine as a safe and effective drug to fight COVID-19.

 

Former President Donald Trump was a major proponent using the drug as a preventative. Doctors worldwide prescribed the controversial drug throughout 2020 when those who went public with their knowledge about the drug’s effectiveness were censored on most social media platforms. 

 

Two independent studies published by Henry Ford Health System and medRxiv found hydroxychloroquine to be safe and effective in treating COVID-19. The first study analyzed 2,541 hospitalized covid patients and found that 13% of hospitalized patients treated with hydroxychloroquine alone died of COVID-19, compared to 26.4% who died who were not treated with the drug. The results in the second study analyzed 255 covid patients on ventilators and took hydroxychloroquine with zinc saw a 200% increase in survival rate.

 

Dr. Fauci advised against masks for healthy people

More contradicting guidance came from emails surrounding Dr. Fauci’s beliefs on masks and their effectiveness to slow the spread of COVID-19. In a reply to former Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Dr. Fauci advised not to wear a mask when traveling on Feb. 5, 2020.

 

“Masks are really for infected people to prevent them from spreading infection to people who are not infected rather than protecting uninfected people from acquiring infection,” Dr. Fauci wrote. “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out the virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. It might, however, provide some slight benefit in keeping out gross droplets if someone coughs or sneezes on you. I do not recommend that you wear a mask, particularly since you are going to a very low risk location.”

 

Since then, Dr. Fauci has advocated for mass masking.

Pierce opening for the winter

After a year plus of campuses being closed, there is hope to welcome all students back to in-person teaching. 

An email was sent out to Pierce College staff with updates on current plans for returning to campus and fully reopening no later than winter quarter of 2022. “The full reopening will incorporate lessons learned throughout the pandemic about safety and the needs of students and employees,” Pierce College Chancellor and Presidents stated.

The plan includes a gradual return to campus while the classes remain online during spring term, starting with employees wanting to return to the campus. This would be the start of a larger phased return.

The decision to reopen, made by the governing body of the school, will be in alignment with the guidance of the governor’s office and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health District. The state’s higher education reopening plan, and the COVID-19 exposure control, mitigation and recovery plan, will also help to ensure all safety protocols are met and have a revert-to-remote operation if needed.

Any further updates on plans to return to campus will be given as the evolving situation with the pandemic is monitored. Information on when it is safe for students and services to return to campus will be given to the school’s staff.

The Chancellor and Presidents stated that they are looking forward to and hope for face-to-face interactions soon.

Washington moving to Phase 3

On May 18, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that Washington state is moving to Phase 3 and reopening June 30. If at least 70% of Washingtonians over the age of 16 begin to get vaccinated before then, the reopening date could be sooner; currently we are at 56%.

 

The list of permitted activities is on the Roadmap to Recovery. It includes 50 people at an outdoor home event, 50% capacity for indoor sports and fitness facilities and 400 people at outdoor entertainment establishments. 

 

The reopening was recently paused for two weeks, but hopefully it doesn’t need to be pushed back any further. Washington will go back to a lower phase if the statewide ICU capacity exceeds 90%. If all goes well, then Washingtonians should be able to enjoy the sun this summer.

 

To be up to date on Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcements, visit his website here.

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes new Vice President

Pierce College Fort Steilacoom welcomes its new Vice President of Learning and Student Success, Dr. Ilder Andres Betancourt Lopez, following an email announcement from PCFS’s President Julie White on June 3. Lopez is expected to join our Pierce community come August 2, 2021.

“[Lopez] brings a wealth of expertise to our work to create an anti-racist institution, in order to fulfill our mission at Pierce College: to provide quality educational opportunities to a diverse community of learners to thrive in an evolving world,” White stated.

White further shares in an email announcement a biography provided by Lopez himself, which gives more insight into our new vice president. From his biography, it states that Lopez grew up in an impoverished area in Los Angeles, being born from undocumented, Latino immigrants.

“When Ilder entered Stanford University, he felt blessed but he also wondered how to best maximize the privilege,” White stated. “A career in the community colleges became the obvious answer. It was and still is the nexus of opportunity for many of his family members and peers.

“Throughout his career, Ilder applies an equity and social justice lens to all his leadership decisions. Ilder believes it is not our students that need to change but the institution that can change to better address the issues faced by our students. He has devoted his career working at the community college to fulfill this philosophy.”

Lopez is currently the Dean of Science at Bellevue College, where he has developed and overseen their division’s efforts to provide learning opportunities during the COVID pandemic. Some of Lopez’s work also includes providing culturally responsive teaching and services training to all employees through a partnership with Bellevue College and the national Puente Project.

Pierce College looks forward to welcoming its new vice president with open arms. In due time, students and staff alike will be able to get to know Lopez more personally as he becomes a part of the Pierce community.

Mass Shootings – A Seemingly Endless American Tragedy

With mass shootings on the rise again, we take a look at what may be the causes for such violence in America.

Fifty-nine dead and 500 injured: Las Vegas. Forty-nine dead and 58 injured: Orlando nightclub. Fourteen dead and 22 injured: San Bernardino, Calif. Thirty-two dead and 17 injured: Blacksburg, VA. Thirteen dead and 24 injured: Columbine, Colo.

 
 

These mass shootings happened between 1999 and 2017 and were executed by people of various ages and races. Mass shootings are not new to American society but are still a surprise when they occur.

 

Wanting someone to blame is a natural response for these repeat occurrences, but pointing a finger is not as easy as it seems. Perhaps what happens before a mass shooting is worth taking a look at, in hope of finding a solution before such violence occurs. 

 

Dr. Jeffrey Simons, an expert on terrorism and political violence, believes mass shooters are lone wolves and more dangerous than terrorist groups. “One thing to remember about lone wolves and what makes them so dangerous is they’re not part of a group, so there is no constraint on their level of violence,” Simons said in an interview with NBCLX.

 

According to the gun violence archive website, mass shootings are defined as there being four minimum victims either killed or injured, not including the shooter if the shooter were to be killed during the incident. There have been 610 mass shootings in 2020, even with nationwide quarantines in effect. Since 2014 mass shootings have been on the rise in the U.S., and Washington State lists as having had 29.

 

The most obvious statement one can make is that the list of mass shootings is long and getting longer. The desire to end such a threat, which can happen at any moment and any place, is great, but the question is how to defeat a threat that is invisible until it decides to show itself?

 

The reality is that anyone is capable of committing such an act of violence and the rest must try to look for signs of it. As difficult as it seems, violence does not stop, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

On the mentality of mass shooters, Simons said that 30% to 40% have some type of mental illness. “Many times, that mental illness will affect their perception of reality, but they also can be very dangerous in what they do.”

 

The perception of mental illness being directly correlated with mass shootings is a normal one. Yet some think that the cause of gun violence is more complex than just mental illness.

 

According to a study done by  Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, the factors for mass violent acts are due to childhood abuse, neglect, household antisocial behavior, binge drinking and stressful life events. This is not to say that mental illness plays no role in the matter, but the study does seem to bring out preventable issues.

 

The article went on to say that many researchers have had an understanding that most people with mental illness are non-violent and that a lot of the violent acts are committed by people who have no mental illness. The study wanted to point out that substance abuse along with mental illness is responsible for the increased risk attributable to mental disorders.

 

Looking at reports of violent acts is difficult, to say the least, and there is a more difficult view of the cause of violent acts. There is a consensus among researchers about mental illness and violence, but the difference in opinion lies in what is at the center of the recurring incidents.

 

The study found that having a mental and substance disorder simultaneously will put an individual at the highest risk of expressing violence. The conclusions from the study signaled that severe mental illness with substance abuse had a stronger relationship to violence. In contrast, severe mental illness and violence had a modest relationship.

 

Solutions have been brought up in the effort to deter and stop mass violence such as arming teachers, banning assault weapons, banning high-capacity magazines, universal background checks, active shooter drills, banning violent video games, having people report potential threats, funding CDC research for gun violence and more. Still, the issue of mental health problems to any degree arises and the risk of any type of violence is real and is left unchecked while deciding powers debate the issue.

 

All of the proposed solutions would have either a low or high level of success but the debate over the cause of mass violence is ongoing and finding a solution seems far from over. At the moment people must be on the lookout for the threat before it happens and find a more personal solution for it.   

 

https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/past-tolls

Jeffrey Simon’s interview with NBCLX

https://www.lx.com/community/author-says-lone-wolves-like-colorado-shooter-are-more-dangerous-than-terrorist-groups/33457/

Mental Illness and Violence Article

https://www-proquest-com.ezproxy-h.pierce.ctc.edu/docview/921486642?accountid=2280

A Crisis at the Border

U.S. borders see an increase in migrants following President Joe Biden’s pause on non-citizen deportation

Since President Joe Biden was inaugurated in January 2021, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has seen a 15 year high in migrant border crossings. According to the CBP, 172,331 migrants went into custody in March. This was up from 101,028 detainees in February. 

In January, the Biden Administration announced that for the first 100 days, it would pause the deportation of non-citizens and discontinue the previous administration’s usage of the “remain in Mexico” policy. Formerly known as the Migrant Protection Protocols policy, it requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for an American court hearing.

Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske said that the U.S. faces a significant challenge at the southwest border, while confronting a serious global pandemic in a memorandum release in January. 

“In light of those unique circumstances, the Department must surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security,” Pekoske said.

Since January 2019, 60,000 migrants have been sent back across the border under the MPP policy. Now they are eligible to be housed or remain in the U.S. while waiting for a court hearing.

With the rise in illegal crossings, many have critiqued the administration’s border policies. According to Rep. French Hill (R), who visited the border this month, the Biden administration rescinded former president Trump’s policies and took a lighter stance at the border. 

“Despite what the Biden administration says, the administration’s policies, words, and actions have created the current public health, humanitarian, and security crisis at the border, and its refusal to take the crisis seriously is having a negative impact on our country,” Hill said.

Last March, $86 million was allocated to house 1,200 migrant family members in hotel rooms. This was completed with government contracts between hotels near the Mexico border in both Arizona and Texas. 

A growing influx in illegal crossings and asylum seekers created a strain on border facility capacities. With the strain of COVID-19 protocols, the administration has to deal with the daunting task of where to hold so many people.

A major difficulty for the Biden administration has been finding housing space for an influx in unaccompanied minors. In March, CBP encountered 18,890 unaccompanied minors, which was a 100% increase from February. Once minors are detained, Border patrol is required to transfer them to the Department of Health and Human Services, who then designates housing space or works to reunite children with family members. 

Although, due to COVID-19 restrictions, HHS was working under reduced capacity, and there was limited space to house the increase in migrant children. This required HHS to open up previous housing facilities or build more primarily in Texas to support more children and still attempt to follow COVID-19 guidelines.

Children are not to be held in border patrol custody for more than 72 hours, but the high number of children and lack of bed space in HHS facilities left children in CBP possession for 122 hours on average. Border Patrol facilities then became crowded with minors as the transfer process became backlogged. A Border Patrol facility in Donna, Texas was reported to be over 700% capacity with 1,800 people in an area designed for 250 migrants. 

Additionally, the number of unaccompanied children in CBP facilities peaked at 6,000 children in March. During the last administration, the height of unaccompanied minors was 2,600. This has more than doubled and now matters remain increasingly difficult with more health restrictions and less housing space.

An influx in migrant border crossing has been attributed to both relaxed policies of deportation and the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most children are fleeing economic hardship and violence from Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Yet, along the way migrants face more violence and harm. It is estimated that 1/3 of women are sexually assaulted along the journey to the U.S. border.

Moving to April, CBP still saw a slight increase in migrant crossings with 178,622 border encounters. Yet, the amount of unaccompanied minors decreased compared to April while the number of single adults rose. 

A poll published in May by Associated Press-NORC at the University of Chicago found that 43% of adults approve of how President Joe Biden is handling the crisis at the border. On the other hand, 54% do not approve of his administration’s actions since January.

The Biden administration still faces a daunting task of resolving a near 20 year high of border crossings with no end in sight.

Washington State University Becomes the First College to Mandate Vaccines

WSU was the first college in Washington State to mandate vaccines, many other public colleges are following their footsteps.

 

With COVID-19 vaccinations becoming more accessible throughout Washington, several universities such as The University of Washington and Western Washington University are requiring their students to return to campus fully vaccinated. Washington State University was the first public university in the state to require proof of vaccination.

Proof of vaccination will be due Aug. 6, before the fall semester begins, students not living on campus will need to submit their proof of vaccination by Nov. 1, according to President Kirk Schulz. Those who don’t meet this deadline will be unable to register for classes.

However, exemptions may be in place for those not wishing to get their vaccine. “Our desire is that all students, faculty, staff and volunteers are vaccinated by the start of the fall semester. I think you always need to have exemptions in place. We are expanding that exemption category to include personal exemptions because, again, we’re not interested in getting into a debate with individuals. We really want to make sure people are making a conscious choice and are taking action one way or the other,” explains WSU’s spokesman Phil Weiler. 

While exemptions will be allowed, WSU aims to make sure a majority of their students are vaccinated so on-campus classes may be brought back sooner. “If we can get everybody vaccinated, we can have the kind of academic experience that everybody expects and everybody wants,” said Weiler.

 It’s not just the president and spokesman pushing for this requirement either. According to Daryll DeWald, chancellor of WSU’s health sciences, many deans from the pharmaceutical and nursing colleges are advocating for this requirement, while WSU Senate Chair David Trumbull said older and at-risk staff members would be concerned without this mandate.

 “WSU has an obligation to serve the public good and do all it can to ensure the health and safety of citizens in the state of Washington,” said DeWald.

DeWald’s words encourage not just WSU students but all university students and staff to make the choice to get vaccinated so that the community can pave the way back to their campuses in a safe and healthy way.

Fully vaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks or social distance

The CDC announced on May 13 that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing both indoors and outdoors. Unvaccinated people are still encouraged by the CDC to wear masks in public places, as well as practice social distancing.

“You can resume activities without wearing a mask or staying 6 feet apart, except where required by federal, state, local, tribal or territorial laws, incl. local business and workplace guidance,” the CDC stated in a tweet.

As stated on the CDC’s official site, to qualify as being fully vaccinated you must have either received a second dose in a two-dose series such as Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or a single-dose vaccine such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving your second or single-dose vaccination.

Public places the CDC still would encourage people to wear masks include hospitals, prisons, doctor’s offices, public transportation and planes. A few more liberties have been granted to fully vaccinated individuals however, alongside being able to ditch the mask and the social distancing. 

According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people no longer need to be tested while traveling within the United States. Fully vaccinated individuals who may have been exposed to someone carrying COVID-19 also no longer need to self quarantine afterwards or get tested.

“However, if you live or work in a correctional or detention facility or a homeless shelter and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms,” the CDC stated. 

A few unknowns are still being looked at by the CDC as they make their announcement Thursday afternoon. What the CDC is still investigating regarding the vaccines includes how well they fight against other COVID-19 variants, and the vaccines effectiveness for those with weakened immune systems. How long vaccines keep people safe from COVID-19 is also still being studied by the CDC.

Lauren Kirschman of the News Tribune has since stated that the Washington state Department of Health reports 1,090 new COVID-19 cases in Washington since Wednesday. Pierce County reports 162 new cases alongside four deaths. 

More information regarding new COVID-19 cases per Washington county, testing sites and more can be found on this infographic page provided by the Washington DOH.

Tacoma Public Library and Seattle Public Library announce a reciprocal borrowing agreement

On March 29, 2021, Tacoma Public Library and Seattle Public Library announced they would have a reciprocal borrowing agreement. People who have a library card with TPL and a government issued ID can now get one with SPL. 

 

According to SPL’s library card FAQ, previous availability went only to people who lived, worked, went to school or owned property in Bothell or King County. Other libraries made reciprocal borrowing agreements with SPL in the past, and now TPL is added to that list. 

 

Applications for an SPL card are available at any SPL branch or online at their website. Once approved, readers can check out and put up to 25 e-books and e-audiobooks on hold, as well as 50 physical items on hold. Physical items on hold must be picked up at a SPL branch. This process is the same for SPL patrons getting a TPL card as well. According to both libraries, they are not charging overdue fees—only fees for lost or damaged material. 

 

Most TPL are still closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, there is hope for people who miss the calm environment of the library. “Fern Hill Library and Swasey Library are now open for visits by appointment or walk-in,” TPL stated. TPL Now updates regularly on the availability of services being offered at TPL. 

 

This is a wonderful partnership, and people should take advantage of this wider access to library catalog as more libraries continue to open up.

COVID-19 Self-Test Kits available at local libraries

On April 14, 2021, Tacoma Public Library and Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department partnered up to offer free self-administered COVID-19 test kits, with library cards not being required. The kits can be picked up at any TPL location during their service hours, or by speaking with a librarian at one of their branches; it is unclear if the Eastside Community Center is included.

Afterwards, the kit can be registered online using the included instructions. Once that is complete and the test has been administered, the kit can be dropped off at a UPS store or UPS drop box. Postage has been included since it is required that the kit be mailed to UPS the same day it is taken. TPL advises those interested to not bring kits back to the library after picking one up.

This is a great way to give people more flexibility and privacy while also being safe. For more information regarding TPL’s pickup services and schedules, visit TPL’s Events calendar.

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