Mariners tops Twins in 10th, 4-3
MINNEAPOLIS — Mitch Haniger homered and hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the 10th inning, giving the Seattle Mariners a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday.
All three of Minnesota’s losses this season have come in the 10th, with the bullpen struggling with baseball’s new-as-of-2020 rule that starts each extra inning with a runner on second base.
For Seattle, that was Taylor Trammell, who homered earlier in the game.
Taylor Rogers (0-1) picked up Braden Bishop’s bunt in front of the mound, but he couldn’t get a clean grip and held off on a throw as a precaution. Haniger hit a one-out fly deep enough to left for Trammell to come home.
Kendall Graveman (1-0) worked the ninth for the victory, and Keynan Middleton pitched a perfect 10th for the save.
Mariners closer Rafael Montero took the eighth against the middle of Minnesota’s lineup and walked Nelson Cruz – who hit a two-run homer earlier – with one out. Pinch runner Jake Cave eventually scored the tying run on a wild pitch, with nary a hit in the inning for the Twins.
Kyle Seager’s two-out, two-strike single in the eighth inning had given the Mariners the lead they first built in the third inning when Trammell hit his first career home run and Haniger went deep two outs later. Michael Pineda shook off the power surge and finished six innings with only two other baserunners. The Mariners were outhomered 13-3 over their first seven games.
Cruz erased Seattle’s lead on one pitch from Yusei Kikuchi, reaching out to drive a slider into the planters above right field. Kikuchi settled in, too, finishing six innings for the second straight turn.
The Mariners needed a lift like this from Kikuchi, their lefty with the jerky leg kick whose increased velocity this spring has helped him progress from two underwhelming seasons to start his major league career. With an ominous injury to James Paxton, a strained left forearm that can be a precursor to elbow reconstruction, and struggles by opening day starter Marco Gonzales, the Mariners’ rotation entered the game ranked 26th in baseball in ERA.
Twins starters, on the other hand, have the best ERA in the majors at 1.88 and have yet to lose a decision. They’re 5-0 in eight games.
Mariners: Paxton will get his second medical opinion on Monday, with the possibility of Tommy John surgery still looming. … 1B Evan White (mild left quadriceps strain) missed his second straight game but worked out on the field beforehand. … CF Kyle Lewis, the AL Rookie of the Year in 2020 who has yet to play this season because of a bone bruise on his right knee, has increased his activity and intensity, with favorable reviews of his progress, manager Scott Servais said.
Twins: 3B Josh Donaldson (mild right hamstring strain) moved closer to a return next week, taking groundballs and batting practice in the morning. He’ll get some at-bats in simulated game situations at the alternate training site before being cleared. He’s eligible to come off the injured list on Monday. … Players and staff received single-shot COVID-19 vaccinations on Thursday, with the club coming much closer to the desired 85% threshold than initially anticipated, manager Rocco Baldelli said. Some have not yet decided whether to get the vaccine.
Mariners: RHP Chris Flexen (1-0, 0.00 ERA) pitches on Sunday. He struck out six batters in five scoreless innings in his first turn against San Francisco.
Twins: RHP Matt Shoemaker (1-0, 1.50 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale. He gave up just three hits in six innings in his debut with the team on Monday at Detroit.
‘Clear the Capitol,’ Pence pleaded, timeline of riot shows
WASHINGTON — From a secure room in the Capitol on Jan. 6, as rioters pummeled police and vandalized the building, Vice President Mike Pence tried to assert control. In an urgent phone call to the acting defense secretary, he issued a startling demand.
“Clear the Capitol,” Pence said.
Elsewhere in the building, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were making a similarly dire appeal to military leaders, asking the Army to deploy the National Guard.
“We need help,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said in desperation, more than an hour after the Senate chamber had been breached.
At the Pentagon, officials were discussing media reports that the mayhem was not confined to Washington and that other state capitals were facing similar violence in what had the makings of a national insurrection.
“We must establish order,” said Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a call with Pentagon leaders.
But order would not be restored for hours.
These new details about the deadly riot are contained in a previously undisclosed document prepared by the Pentagon for internal use that was obtained by The Associated Press and vetted by current and former government officials.
The timeline adds another layer of understanding about the state of fear and panic while the insurrection played out, and lays bare the inaction by then-President Donald Trump and how that void contributed to a slowed response by the military and law enforcement. It shows that the intelligence missteps, tactical errors and bureaucratic delays were eclipsed by the government’s failure to comprehend the scale and intensity of a violent uprising by its own citizens.
With Trump not engaged, it fell to Pentagon officials, a handful of senior White House aides, the leaders of Congress and the vice president holed up in a secure bunker to manage the chaos.
While the timeline helps to crystalize the frantic character of the crisis, the document, along with hours of sworn testimony, provides only an incomplete picture about how the insurrection could have advanced with such swift and lethal force, interrupting the congressional certification of Joe Biden as president and delaying the peaceful transfer of power, the hallmark of American democracy.
Lawmakers, protected to this day by National Guard troops, will hear from the inspector general of the Capitol Police this coming week.
“Any minute that we lost, I need to know why,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which is investigating the siege, said last month.
The timeline fills in some of those gaps.
At 4:08 p.m. on Jan. 6, as the rioters roamed the Capitol and after they had menacingly called out for Pelosi, D-Calif., and yelled for Pence to be hanged, the vice president was in a secure location, phoning Christopher Miller, the acting defense secretary, and demanding answers.
There had been a highly public rift between Trump and Pence, with Trump furious that his vice president refused to halt the Electoral College certification. Interfering with that process was an act that Pence considered unconstitutional. The Constitution makes clear that the vice president’s role in this joint session of Congress is largely ceremonial.
Pence’s call to Miller lasted only a minute. Pence said the Capitol was not secure and he asked military leaders for a deadline for securing the building, according to the document.
By this point it had already been two hours since the mob overwhelmed Capitol Police unprepared for an insurrection. Rioters broke into the building, seized the Senate and paraded to the House. In their path, they left destruction and debris. Dozens of officers were wounded, some gravely.
Just three days earlier, government leaders had talked about the use of the National Guard. On the afternoon of Jan. 3, as lawmakers were sworn in for the new session of Congress, Miller and Milley gathered with Cabinet members to discuss Jan. 6. They also met with Trump.
In that meeting at the White House, Trump approved the activation of the D.C. National Guard and also told the acting defense secretary to take whatever action needed as events unfolded, according to the information obtained by the AP.
The next day, Jan. 4, the defense officials spoke by phone with Cabinet members, including the acting attorney general, and finalized details of the Guard deployment.
The Guard’s role was limited to traffic intersections and checkpoints around the city, based in part on strict restrictions mandated by district officials. Miller also authorized Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy to deploy, if needed, the D.C. Guard’s emergency reaction force stationed at Joint Base Andrews.
The Trump administration and the Pentagon were wary of a heavy military presence, in part because of criticism officials faced for the seemingly heavy-handed National Guard and law enforcement efforts to counter civil unrest in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
In particular, the D.C. Guard’s use of helicopters to hover over crowds in downtown Washington during those demonstrations drew widespread criticism. That unauthorized move prompted the Pentagon to more closely control the D.C. Guard.
“There was a lot of things that happened in the spring that the department was criticized for,” Robert Salesses, who is serving as the assistant defense secretary for homeland defense and global security, said at a congressional hearing last month.
On the eve of Trump’s rally Jan. 6 near the White House, the first 255 National Guard troops arrived in the district, and Mayor Muriel Bowser confirmed in a letter to the administration that no other military support was needed.
By the morning of Jan. 6, crowds started gathering at the Ellipse before Trump’s speech. According to the Pentagon’s plans, the acting defense secretary would only be notified if the crowd swelled beyond 20,000.
Before long it was clear that the crowd was far more in control of events than the troops and law enforcement there to maintain order.
Trump, just before noon, was giving his speech and he told supporters to march to the Capitol. The crowd at the rally was at least 10,000. By 1:15 p.m., the procession was well on its way there.
As protesters reached the Capitol grounds, some immediately became violent, busting through weak police barriers in front of the building and beating up officers who stood in their way.
At 1:49 p.m., as the violence escalated, then- Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund called Maj. Gen. William Walker, commanding general of the D.C. National Guard, to request assistance.
Sund’s voice was “cracking with emotion,” Walker later told a Senate committee. Walker immediately called Army leaders to inform them of the request.
Twenty minutes later, around 2:10 p.m., the first rioters were beginning to break through the doors and windows of the Senate. They then started a march through the marbled halls in search of the lawmakers who were counting the electoral votes. Alarms inside the building announced a lockdown.
Sund frantically called Walker again and asked for at least 200 guard members “and to send more if they are available.”
But even with the advance Cabinet-level preparation, no help was immediately on the way.
Over the next 20 minutes, as senators ran to safety and the rioters broke into the chamber and rifled through their desks, Army Secretary McCarthy spoke with the mayor and Pentagon leaders about Sund’s request.
On the Pentagon’s third floor E Ring, senior Army leaders were huddled around the phone for what they described as a “panicked” call from the D.C. Guard. As the gravity of the situation became clear, McCarthy bolted from the meeting, sprinting down the hall to Miller’s office and breaking into a meeting.
As minutes ticked by, rioters breached additional entrances in the Capitol and made their way to the House. They broke glass in doors that led to the chamber and tried to gain entry as a group of lawmakers was still trapped inside.
At 2:25 p.m., McCarthy told his staff to prepare to move the emergency reaction force to the Capitol. The force could be ready to move in 20 minutes.
At 2:44 p.m., Trump supporter Ashli Babbitt was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer as she tried to climb through a window that led to the House floor.
Shortly after 3 p.m., McCarthy provided “verbal approval” of the activation of 1,100 National Guard troops to support the D.C. police and the development of a plan for the troops’ deployment duties, locations and unit sizes.
Minutes later the Guard’s emergency reaction force left Joint Base Andrews for the D.C. Armory. There, they would prepare to head to the Capitol once Miller, the acting defense secretary, gave final approval.
Meanwhile, the Joint Staff set up a video teleconference call that stayed open until about 10 p.m. that night, allowing staff to communicate any updates quickly to military leaders.
At 3:19 p.m., Pelosi and Schumer were calling the Pentagon for help and were told the National Guard had been approved.
But military and law enforcement leaders struggled over the next 90 minutes to execute the plan as the Army and Guard called all troops in from their checkpoints, issued them new gear, laid out a new plan for their mission and briefed them on their duties.
The Guard troops had been prepared only for traffic duties. Army leaders argued that sending them into a volatile combat situation required additional instruction to keep both them and the public safe.
By 3:37 p.m., the Pentagon sent its own security forces to guard the homes of defense leaders. No troops had yet reached the Capitol.
By 3:44 p.m., the congressional leaders escalated their pleas.
“Tell POTUS to tweet everyone should leave,” Schumer implored the officials, using the acronym for the president of the United States. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., asked about calling up active duty military.
At 3:48 p.m., frustrated that the D.C. Guard hadn’t fully developed a plan to link up with police, the Army secretary dashed from the Pentagon to D.C. police headquarters to help coordinate with law enforcement.
Trump broke his silence at 4:17 p.m., tweeting to his followers to “go home and go in peace.”
By about 4:30 p.m., the military plan was finalized and Walker had approval to send the Guard to the Capitol. The reports of state capitals breached in other places turned out to be bogus.
At about 4:40 p.m. Pelosi and Schumer were again on the phone with Milley and the Pentagon leadership, asking Miller to secure the perimeter.
But the acrimony was becoming obvious.
The congressional leadership on the call “accuses the National Security apparatus of knowing that protestors planned to conduct an assault on the Capitol,” the timeline said.
The call lasts 30 minutes. Pelosi’s spokesman acknowledges there was a brief discussion of the obvious intelligence failures that led to the insurrection.
It would be another hour before the first contingent of 155 Guard members were at the Capitol. Dressed in riot gear, they began arriving at 5:20 p.m.
They started moving out the rioters, but there were few, if any, arrests. by police.
At 8 p.m. the Capitol was declared secure.
Central Oregon has a new playground for mountain bikers
MADRAS, Ore. — To the west, Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters glowed a bright white against a clear blue sky. Just below us, winding down an otherwise unimpressive hill in the middle of the high desert, were five different trails, all filled with jumps, berms, concrete pavers and wood features. A mountain biker could spend most of a day here, climbing and then riding down a different trail packed with free-ride flavor.
Combine the efforts of visionary mountain bikers and forward-thinking land managers and the result is the Madras East Hills trails, the latest playground for mountain bikers in Central Oregon.
Located just east of Madras near Juniper Hill Park, the trail system includes 14 miles of mountain biking trails and 6 miles of horseback-riding trails.
Led by the Madras Chapter of the Central Oregon Trail Alliance (COTA), trail work on Madras East Hills began in 2019 and has transformed the area into a true destination for cyclists coming from Bend, Redmond and even Portland.
“We’ve had a lot of folks come out,” said Brennan Morrow, the Madras Chapter representative for COTA. “They’ve gotten rave reviews. They’re such awesome, unique trails, and they’re so fun because they’re designed in a way that you can just ride out there all day, sessioning and doing different stuff. It’s been super popular because of the unique nature of the trails, having fortified berms, large jumping features, and wood features.”
Because the trails are located on land owned by the City of Madras and other private entities, wood and concrete features are allowed to be built in the system. That is not the case on most other trails in Central Oregon, which are mostly located on federal land, including the Deschutes and Ochoco national forests and the Bureau of Land Management.
“A lot of our trails in COTA are on Forest Service and BLM land, which really limits the scope of what can be built,” Morrow said. “But as we move to land that cities or private entities own, we end up with the freedom to build a better system. The Forest Service just has different parameters on what can be built. We’ve had total support from the city (of Madras). They’ve been hugely helpful in developing this.”
While many trails near Bend have free-ride features, most of them must be built within the natural surroundings, such as rocks, logs and trees. The plethora of man-made features at Madras East Hills makes it unique to Central Oregon.
“Madras is a pioneer in so many ways with this trail system,” Morrow said. “It’s already created a bunch of revenue for the town. It’s put us on the map. On the weekends, the trailhead is packed out. And that’s maybe 10% locals. People travel here to ride the trails.”
I made the hourlong drive from Bend to Madras on a windy Sunday, and met up with friends Mark Johnson and Andrew Williams, also both from Bend.
We started out on the West Side Trail, one of the longer trails in the system, which led us to the west side of the network through a treeless area, the wind ripping into our faces. Before long we arrived at a ridgetop, then descended a series of concrete berms and jumps.
The trail then led us back east across the flats to the east side of the system. There we pedaled up a challenging climb and arrived at the top of another ridge, where multiple trail options were available.
We sampled a few different trails, including White Buffalo and Quarantine, both of which include a series of freeride features and lead back to the main trailhead via the Bridge to Nowhere trail. This trail included a wood bridge, paver rollers and a large table-top jump.
After one more lap we we were ready to head back, having ridden nearly 10 miles in just under two hours. Even though Madras East Hills is built with a downhill, freeride experience in mind, we still managed to climb nearly 1,000 feet during the ride.
For some riders at Madras East Hills, the climbing is less of a chore, as the area is open to electric bikes. While E-bikes are prohibited on most national forest and BLM land, they are allowed on the network near Madras.
“We want to be a space that everybody can come ride,” Morrow said. “E-bikes being a growing category, with some debate going on, what we did was we designed the trail with E-bikes in mind, for both types of riders. It opens up opportunity for those who might have physical limitations, but still want to experience mountain biking.”
Morrow said the plan is to eventually link the Madras East Hills system to trails in the Crooked River National Grassland to the east, including the Gray Butte area near Smith Rock and trails near Prineville and the Ochoco Mountains.
“We want to build trails moving that direction over the next five to 10 years,” Morrow said. “We want to connect it to a greater trail system that really interlinks our awesome terrain and beautiful scenery. We have a team at COTA working on that through the Ochoco Trails group.”
While Madras East Hills is an ideal winter and spring option, when many trails near Bend remain snowy or muddy, Morrow said the trails near Madras remain rideable year-round.
“They stay pretty good throughout the summer, surprisingly,” he said. “Here in Madras, we have a clay-based soil. So during the summer months when things turn into a dustbowl in Bend, our trails are packed down pretty nice. There are some soft spots, but we’ve been fortifying those with rock armor.”
High court halts California virus rules limiting home worship
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is telling California that it can’t enforce coronavirus-related restrictions that have limited home-based religious worship including Bible studies and prayer meetings.
The order from the court late Friday is the latest in a recent string of cases in which the high court has barred officials from enforcing some coronavirus-related restrictions applying to religious gatherings.
Five conservative justices agreed that California restrictions that apply to in-home religious gatherings should be lifted for now, while the court’s three liberals and Chief Justice John Roberts would not have done so.
California has already, however, announced significant changes loosening restrictions on gatherings that go into effect April 15. The changes come after infection rates have gone down in the state.
The case before the justices involved California rules that in most of the state limit indoor social gatherings to no more than three households. Attendees are required to wear masks and physically distance from one another. Different restrictions apply to places including schools, grocery stores and churches.
“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise,” allowing hair salons, retail stores, and movie theaters, among other places, “to bring together more than three households at a time,” the unsigned order from the court said. A lower court “did not conclude that those activities pose a lesser risk of transmission than applicants’ proposed religious exercise at home,” it said.
The court acknowledged that California’s policy on gatherings will change next week but said the restrictions remain in place until then and that “officials with a track record of ‘moving the goalposts’ retain authority to reinstate those heightened restrictions at any time.”
Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent for herself and her liberal colleagues, Justice Stephen Breyer and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, that the court’s majority was hurting state officials’ ability to address a public health emergency.
“California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment. And the State does exactly that: It has adopted a blanket restriction on at-home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular alike. California need not … treat at-home religious gatherings the same as hardware stores and hair salons,” she wrote. She added that “the law does not require that the State equally treat apples and watermelons.”
The case before the justices involved two residents of Santa Clara County in the San Francisco Bay Area, who want to host small, in-person Bible study sessions in their homes. In an email message Saturday, one of their lawyers, Ryan J. Walsh, said he and his colleagues were “thrilled beyond words” for their clients.
California had defended its policy of restricting social gatherings as “entirely neutral.”
The court has dealt with a string of cases in which religious groups have challenged coronavirus restrictions impacting worship services. While early in the pandemic the court sided with state officials over the objection of religious groups, that changed following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last September and her replacement by conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
In November, the high court barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. And in February, the high court told California that it can’t bar indoor church services because of the coronavirus pandemic, though it let stand for now a ban on singing and chanting indoors.
Seattle homeless shelters now have COVID vaccines, but few takers so far
Before the pandemic, the Exhibition Hall at the Seattle Center was the site of fashion shows, high-society galas and book fairs; the Pacific Northwest Ballet practices a floor above and performs mere yards away.
Since March 2020, the hall has been one of the largest emergency homeless shelters of its kind in the region, with 130 cots spaced 6 feet apart, covering the 34,000-square-foot floor. And on April 2, it became a vaccination clinic after 130 shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived there for one of the state’s newly eligible – and most challenging – priority groups.
A little after 11 a.m. last Friday, a loudspeaker crackled from the 20-foot ceiling.
“Good morning everyone,” said Sam McKnight, shelter program manager for the Downtown Emergency Services Center, the nonprofit running the shelter. “Again, I hope you’re all getting vaccinated.”
By noon, they’d only had 35 takers, according to Alix Van Hollebeke, the nonprofit’s nursing director.
“It’s a sleepy clinic today,” Van Hollebeke said. She was already planning to take unused doses out to street encampments.
Still, by the end of the day, less than half the doses had been used.
This month, Seattle – area shelters are embarking on a daunting task: Vaccinating more than 10,000 people without stable dwellings, the most of any metro area in America except L.A. and New York.
Officials expect that vaccination effort to take much longer than reaching the general population. Over the next however-long-it-takes, medical teams and public health staff plan to visit 669 sites in King County – shelters, transitional and permanent housing for formerly homeless people, hotels, tent cities and tiny house villages hosted at churches or on city land, and 85 unsanctioned encampments all over the city.
They’ve overcome obstacles to get here – one being quietly persuading the state to move up the timeline for homeless people’s eligibility so they could start at the beginning of April. But the biggest obstacle is ahead: persuading a population with unusually high vaccine hesitance.
This is not going to be like the early vaccine blitzes at long-term care facilities where the virus claimed many victims: If staff want to achieve herd immunity in the homeless population, they’re likely going to have to keep coming back.
Last week, 157 vaccines went into arms at the biggest Downtown Emergency Service Center shelters – Exhibition Hall, the Navigation Center and the Red Lion hotel in Renton – but there are 400 people living in those three spaces, meaning the acceptance rate is just under 40%. Some people were out of the shelter during the clinic, at work, on the streets, or at a doctors’ appointment. Many just refused.
More clinics at more shelters are planned for the coming weeks, and service-center staff plan to go back to the already-visited shelters “at some point,” a spokesperson said.
David Spisak, 61, got the vaccine last Friday, but said his shelter-mates are concerned about the fast-tracked approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine – and many of them are mentally ill, with schizophrenia or paranoia, making them potentially susceptible to misinformation about its safety.
“They repeat things they hear, like a parrot’s script,” Spisak said.
About half of people living in shelter in Seattle are resistant or unsure if they want to take the vaccine, according to researchers at the University of Washington’s Seattle Flu Study. Preliminary numbers from surveys of 880 Seattle shelter residents in the last few months show 32% would not get a COVID-19 vaccine and 19% were undecided – and that’s among people who volunteered for the study, who are probably more trusting than the average, said Dr. Helen Chu, a lead researcher for the study.
That’s higher hesitancy than polling shows among the general population, of which only 13% would definitely not get the vaccine, 7% wouldn’t get it unless required and 17% would wait and see, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in March.
But it’s not so much mental illness driving hesitancy, Chu said, as lower education levels and socio-economic status that tend to correlate with a distrust of institutional medicine. People who grew up poor, and people of color – people who haven’t historically had access to the same education and health care as better-off white people – are more likely to end up homeless. Many have also been treated poorly by medical institutions.
“I think the larger amount of people who are not going to get it just are people who have suspicion of science, of the institution, of medical providers and medical care,” Chu said.
Omar Mustafa, 29, was one of those skeptical shelter residents at Exhibition Hall last week. He believes the coronavirus is real and wears a mask around his grandparents, but if anything, he’s too scared of the disease to get a vaccine. He, like many, believes that the vaccine contains the virus that causes COVID-19, even though the Johnson & Johnson vaccine actually uses a disabled adenovirus, which isn’t related to the coronavirus.
“This virus has been killing us off and you want me to put this in my body?” Mustafa said.
This skepticism compounds logistical hurdles, creating a unique and particular challenge for Public Health – Seattle & King County. The closest comparison to a mass vaccination campaign for people living homeless is a successful hepatitis A vaccination campaign that started in October 2017 and had administered about 5,800 doses as of March 2021. In its busiest month 557 people were vaccinated, but most months averaged less than 150. The county will have to administer many more a lot faster to get homeless people to a safe place any time soon.
If shelter operators can’t manage to get vaccination rates to the 70% or 80% needed to essentially stop the spread of the virus, the specter of future deaths is very real.
Dr. Stephen Hwang, a shelter doctor and researcher at the University of Toronto who has studied respiratory disease spread in homeless shelters, says shelters there may be experiencing a similar rate of uptake – roughly 40%, from what he’s seen himself and heard anecdotally.
Shelters will need to offer vaccines to their populations, Hwang said, and keep returning. Otherwise, shelters could foster COVID-19 outbreaks seasonally and more variants could develop.
“We’re early in the vaccination campaign,” Hwang said. “There’s still hope that people will change their minds as they see the vast majority of people get vaccinated and the beneficial effects it has on people’s lives. I think it’s too early to say that someone who says ‘no’ today will say ‘no’ for the next year.”
Nurses, outreach and shelter workers have a few assets on their side: many have spent years building relationships with street and shelter dwellers through programs like the hepatitis A vaccination campaign, and while homeless people might not trust pharmaceutical companies, they sometimes learn to trust the people tasked with helping.
Days before last Friday’s clinic, public health employees hosted a question-and-answer session at Exhibition Hall to allay fears. Places like this, where turnover is much higher than in hotels or spaces where people have private rooms, are tougher because staff don’t always have long relationships with clients.
“Fear drives a lot of people’s behavior, I think,” said Jesse Klein, 35, another Exhibition Hall shelter resident who agreed to get the vaccine last Friday. He said the fact that the vaccine was one shot persuaded him to get it: A two-dose vaccine would have been too complicated for him and a lot of people who might not know where they will sleep the next night.
Stalled at first jab: Vaccine shortages hit poor countries
LONDON — As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might be stalled at the first shots of their coronavirus vaccinations because nearly all deliveries through the global program intended to help them are blocked until as late as June.
COVAX, the global initiative to provide vaccines to countries lacking the clout to negotiate for scarce supplies on their own, has in the past week shipped more than 25,000 doses to low-income countries only twice on any given day. Deliveries have all but halted since Monday.
During the past two weeks, according to data compiled daily by UNICEF, fewer than 2 million COVAX doses in total were cleared for shipment to 92 countries in the developing world – the same amount injected in Britain alone.
On Friday, the head of the World Health Organization slammed the “shocking imbalance” in global COVID-19 vaccination. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus said that while one in four people in rich countries had received a vaccine, only one in 500 people in poorer countries had gotten a dose.
The vaccine shortage stems mostly from India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines from its Serum Institute factory, which produces the overwhelming majority of the AstraZeneca doses that COVAX counted on to supply around a third of the global population at a time coronavirus is spiking worldwide.
COVAX will only ship vaccines cleared by WHO, and countries are increasingly impatient. Supplies are dwindling in some of the first countries to receive COVAX shipments, and the expected delivery of second doses in the 12-week window currently recommended is now in doubt. In a statement, the vaccine alliance known as GAVI told The Associated Press that 60 countries are affected by the delays.
In vaccination tents set up at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi, many of those who arrived for their first jabs were uneasy about when the second would arrive.
“My fear if I don’t get the second dose, my immune system is going to be weak, hence I might die,” said Oscar Odinga, a civil servant.
Internal WHO documents obtained by the AP show the uncertainty about deliveries “is causing some countries to lose faith in the COVAX (effort).” That is prompting WHO to consider speeding up its endorsement of vaccines from China and Russia, which have not been authorized by any regulators in Europe or North America.
The WHO documents show the U.N. agency is facing questions from COVAX participants about allotments in addition to “uncertainty about whether all those who were vaccinated in round 1 are guaranteed a second dose.”
WHO declined to respond specifically to the issues raised in the internal materials but has previously said countries are “very keen” to get vaccines as soon as possible and insisted it hasn’t heard any complaints about the process.
Concern over the link between the AstraZeneca shot and rare blood clots has also “created nervousness both around its safety and efficacy,” WHO noted. Among its proposed solutions is a decision to “expedite review of additional products” from China and Russia.
WHO said last month it might be possible to greenlight the Chinese vaccines by the end of April.
Some experts have noted that Sinopharm and Sinovac, two Chinese-made vaccines, lack published data, and there are reports of people needing a third dose to be protected.
“If there is something that we miss from not having thoroughly evaluated the risks of serious adverse events from these vaccines, that would undermine the confidence in all the good products that we’re using that we know are safe,” said Dora Curry, director of health equity and rights at CARE International.
Other experts worried that delays could erode faith in governments that were particularly efficient in their vaccination programs and were counting on second doses soon.
“In the absence of high vaccination coverage globally, we risk dragging out the pandemic for several more years,” said Lavanya Vasudevan, an assistant professor at Duke University’s Global Health Institute. “Every day that the virus is in circulation is an opportunity for it to mutate into a more deadly variant.”
Earlier this month, the WHO appealed to rich countries to urgently share 10 million doses to meet the U.N. target of starting COVID-19 vaccinations in every country within the first 100 days of the year. So far, countries have pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to COVAX. But there are simply no doses to buy, and no country has agreed to immediately share what it has.
Bilateral donations of doses tend to go along political lines, rather than to countries with the most infections, and they aren’t nearly enough to compensate for the goals that COVAX has set out. Think Global Health, a data site managed by the Council on Foreign Relations, identified 19 countries that have donated a total of 27.5 million doses to 102 nations as of Thursday.
“You can make a strong argument that we’re better off making donations in crisis and getting the pandemic under control than vaccinating low-risk groups at home,” said Thomas Bollyky, director of the Global Health Program at the Council on Foreign Relations. Bollyky said COVAX was both a great disappointment and the only available option for most the world.
According to the International Rescue Committee, COVID-19 cases and deaths last month surged in numerous crisis-hit countries: by 322% in Kenya, 379% in Yemen and 529% in northeast Syria.
On Thursday, the agencies behind COVAX – WHO, vaccines alliance GAVI and CEPI, a coalition for epidemic preparedness – celebrated their delivery of 38 million lifesaving vaccines to more than 100 countries.
Brook Baker, a vaccines expert at Northeastern University, said the laudatory message was misplaced.
“Celebrating doses sufficient for only 19 million people, or 0.25% of global population, is tone deaf,” he said, adding it was time for WHO and partners to be more honest with countries.
“WHO and GAVI have repeatedly overpromised and underdelivered, so why should we believe that they will suddenly be able to ramp up production and deliveries in a couple of months?” he said.
Outside the vaccination tents in Nairobi on Thursday, Dr. Duncan Nyukuri, an infectious disease physician, tried to reassure people getting their first dose.
“If you receive the first dose and you fail to receive the second dose, this does not mean that your body will be any weaker or you will be at an increased risk of getting any infection,” he said. “What it means is your body will have developed some immunity against the coronavirus infection. But this immunity is not as good as somebody who has received both doses.”
Port of Astoria saves big on loans
The Port of Astoria will save more than $500,000 by refinancing a loan used to buy the Taggart Building on Pier 1.
The Port took out a $1.7 million loan with Clatsop Community Bank in 2010 to buy the three-story office complex, named after the family of former Port Commissioner Glenn Taggart, who developed the building. The loan was later transferred to Lewis & Clark Bank.
The agency worked with David Ulbricht, an adviser with the Special Districts Association of Oregon, to recruit other banks and refinance at lower interest rates. The best proposal came from Kitsap Bank based in Port Orchard, Washington, which offered a fully amortized loan running through June 2035 that Ulbricht said would ultimately save the agency around $550,000.
The new loan agreement with Kitsap Bank will cost the Port around $110,000 a year, Ulbricht said, versus around $150,000 a year with Lewis & Clark. The agreement will also remove a lien on the building used as collateral, he said.
“The bank you’re getting the funding from is taking just your promise to pay – no bank fees, no loan fees, no appraisals, no deeds, a very simple transaction,” he said. “And I’m excited as much as you folks are, because when we are able to save our members money in the process and get them good financing, then we’re doing our job.”
The Port moved out of its third-floor offices in the Taggart Building in 2019 to save money, returning to the former headquarters on Gateway Avenue. The agency has since leased most of the upstairs of the Taggart Building to medical offices, including Watershed Wellness and Dr. Kevin Baxter, who left Columbia Memorial Hospital in September and restarted his former practice, Baxter Family Medicine.
Will Isom, the Port’s executive director, said the Port will also likely receive another yearlong deferment of loans through the state’s Infrastructure Finance Authority.
Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, gave the Port one year off of principal and interest payments starting last spring in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Isom estimated the one-year deferment saved the Port $900,000 in principal and $300,000 in interest.
“Depending on the loan, we had various payments that were going to start coming due between April of ’21 and June of ’21, and those will be extended for an additional 12 months,” Isom said.
Famed Egyptian archaeologist reveals details of ancient city
CAIRO — Egypt’s best-known archaeologist on Saturday revealed further details on a Pharaonic city recently found in the southern province of Luxor.
Zahi Hawass said that archaeologists found brick houses, artifacts, and tools from pharaonic times at the site of the 3,000-year-old lost city. It dates back to Amenhotep III of the 18th dynasty, whose reign is considered a golden era for ancient Egypt.
“This is really a large city that was lost… The inscription that found inside here says that this city was called: ‘The dazzling Aten’,” Hawass told reporters at the site.
Archeologists started excavating in the area last year, searching for the mortuary temple of boy King Tutankhamun. However, within weeks they found mud brick formations that eventually turned out to be a well-preserved large city.
City walls and even rooms filled with ovens, storage pottery, and utensils used in daily life are said to be present. Archeologists also found human remains that were visible to reporters and visitors on Saturday.
“We found three major districts, one for administration, one for the workmen to sleep, one for the industry and (an) area for dried meat,” said Hawass, who spoke to reporters at the site while wearing his iconic Indiana Jones hat.
He said he believes that the city was “the most important discovery” since the tomb of Tutankhamun was unearthed in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor nearly fully intact in 1922.
Hawass also rejected the notion that the city’s remains had already been discovered previously, as has been suggested in posts circulating on social media. “It’s impossible… that I discover something that was previously discovered,” he said.
Betsy Brian, professor of Egyptology at John Hopkins University, agreed that the find was new, calling it “exceptional in scale and organization.”
“There’s no indication that I am aware of that this town section had been found before, although clearly it represents a new part of an enormous royal city, that we can appreciate far more now,” she said.
The newly unearthed city is located between the temple of King Rameses III and the colossi of Amenhotep III on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. The city continued to be used by Amenhotep III’s grandson Tutankhamun, and then his successor King Ay.
Some mud bricks bear the seal of King Amenhotep III’s cartouche, or name insignia.
Amenhotep III, who ruled ancient Egypt between 1391 B.C. and 1353 B.C., built the main portions of the Luxor and Karnak temples in the ancient town of Thebes.
Egypt has sought publicity for its archaeological discoveries in the hopes of reviving its tourism sector, which was badly hit by the turmoil following the 2011 uprising, and now the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came a few days after Egypt moved 22 of its prized royal mummies in a gala parade to their new resting place – the newly opened National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.
Lawmakers seek long-term limit on governors’ emergency power
As governors loosen long-lasting coronavirus restrictions, state lawmakers across the U.S. are taking actions to significantly limit the power they could wield in future emergencies.
The legislative measures are aimed not simply at undoing mask mandates and capacity limits that have been common during the pandemic. Many proposals seek to fundamentally shift power away from governors and toward lawmakers the next time there is a virus outbreak, terrorist attack or natural disaster.
“The COVID pandemic has been an impetus for a re-examination of balancing of legislative power with executive powers,” said Pam Greenberg, a policy researcher at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Lawmakers in 45 states have proposed more than 300 measures this year related to legislative oversight of executive actions during the COVID-19 pandemic or other emergencies, according to the NCSL.
About half those states are considering significant changes, such as tighter limits on how long governors’ emergency orders can last without legislative approval, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, an association of conservative lawmakers and businesses. It wrote a model “Emergency Power Limitation Act” for lawmakers to follow.
Though the pushback is coming primarily from Republican lawmakers, it is not entirely partisan.
Republican lawmakers have sought to limit the power of Democratic governors in states such as Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. But they also have sought to rein in fellow Republican governors in such states as Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana and Ohio. Some Democratic lawmakers also have pushed back against governors of their own party, most notably limiting the ability of embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue new mandates.
When the pandemic hit a year ago, many governors and their top health officials temporarily ordered residents to remain home, limited public gatherings, prohibited in-person schooling and shut down dine-in restaurants, gyms and other businesses. Many governors have been repealing or relaxing restrictions after cases declined from a winter peak and as more people get vaccinated.
But the potential remains in many states for governors to again tighten restrictions if new variants of the coronavirus lead to another surge in cases.
Governors have been acting under the authority of emergency response laws that in some states date back decades and weren’t crafted with an indefinite health crisis in mind.
“A previous legislature back in the ’60s, fearing a nuclear holocaust, granted tremendous powers” to the governor, said Idaho state Rep. Jason Monks, a Republican and the chamber’s assistant majority leader.
“This was the first time I think that those laws were really stress-tested,” he said.
Like many governors, Idaho Gov. Brad Little has repeatedly extended his monthlong emergency order since originally issuing it last spring. A pair of bills nearing final approval would prohibit him from declaring an emergency for more than 60 days without legislative approval. The Republican governor also would be barred from suspending constitutional rights, restricting the ability of people to work, or altering state laws like he did by suspending in-person voting and holding a mail-only primary election last year.
A measure that recently passed New Hampshire’s Republican-led House also would prohibit governors from indefinitely renewing emergency declarations, as GOP Gov. Chris Sununu has done every 21 days for the past year. It would halt emergency orders after 30 days unless renewed by lawmakers.
Next month, Pennsylvania voters will decide a pair of constitutional amendments to limit disaster emergency declarations to three weeks, rather than three months, and require legislative approval to extend them. The Republican-led Legislature placed the measures on the ballot after repeatedly failing to reverse the policies Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf implemented to try to contain the pandemic.
In Indiana, the Republican-led Legislature and GOP governor are embroiled in a power struggle over executive powers.
The Legislature approved a bill this past week that would give lawmakers greater authority to intervene in gubernatorially declared emergencies by calling themselves into special session. The House Republican leader said the bill was not “anti-governor” but a response to a generational crisis.
Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has issued more than 60 executive orders during the pandemic, vetoed the bill Friday. He contends the legislature’s attempt to expand its power could violate the state Constitution. Legislative leaders said they intend to override the veto, potentially setting up a legal clash between the legislative and executive branches. Unlike Congress and most states, Indiana lawmakers can override a veto with a simple majority of both houses.
Several other governors also have vetoed bills limiting their emergency authority or increasing legislative powers.
In Michigan, where new variants are fueling a rise in COVID-19 cases, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed GOP-backed legislation last month that would have ended state health department orders after 28 days unless lengthened by lawmakers.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, contended that legislation allowing lawmakers to rescind his public health orders “jeopardizes the safety of every Ohioan.” But the Republican-led Legislature overrode his veto the next day.
“It’s time for us to stand up for the legislative branch,” sponsoring Sen. Rob McColley told his colleagues.
Kentucky’s GOP-led Legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s vetoes of bills limiting his emergency powers, but a judge temporarily blocked the laws from taking effect. The judge said they are “likely to undermine, or even cripple, the effectiveness of public health measures.”
In some states, governors have worked with lawmakers to pare back executive powers.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, signed a law last month giving the GOP-led Legislature greater say in determining whether to end his emergency orders. It was quickly put to the test by the Arkansas Legislative Council, which decided to let Hutchinson extend his emergency declaration another two months.
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, also enacted a law last month giving legislative leaders power to revoke her emergency orders. Top Republican lawmakers immediately used it to scuttle a Kelly order meant to encourage counties to keep mask mandates in place.
“The power of the executive has been emasculated when it comes to the Emergency Management Act,” Democratic state Rep. John Carmichael said. “That may have very dire consequences in other circumstances and other disasters.”
Kelly said it will be harder to persuade people to keep wearing masks without state or local mandates. She said her orders had relieved pressure on local leaders and businesses.
“Let me be the bad guy. Let me be the one who mandates so that they don’t have to make those kinds of decisions,” Kelly said.
Republican lawmakers insisted that their push to curb the governor’s power is not partisan. Lawmakers said they didn’t understand how broad the governor’s power was until she started issuing orders last spring to close K-12 schools, limit indoor worship services and regulate how businesses could reopen.
House Speaker Pro Tem Blaine Finch said he believes the changes in Kansas’ emergency management law will encourage future governors to “use that power sparingly” and collaborate with lawmakers.
“Our system is set up not to give one person of any party too much power over the lives of Kansans,” he said. “We’re supposed to have checks and balances.”
Iran enforces 10-day lockdown amid fourth wave of pandemic
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran on Saturday began a 10-day lockdown amid a fourth wave of coronavirus infections, state TV reported, a worrisome trend after more than a year of the country battling the Middle East’s worst outbreak.
Iran’s coronavirus task force, charged with determining virus restrictions, ordered most shops closed and offices restricted to one-third capacity in cities declared as “red-zones.”
The capital Tehran and 250 other cities and towns across the country have been declared red zones. They have the highest virus positivity rates and the most severe restrictions in place. Over 85% of the country now has either a red or orange infection status, authorities said.
The severe surge in infections follows a two-week public holiday for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Millions traveled to the Caspian coast and other popular vacation spots, packed markets to shop for new clothes and toys and congregated in homes for parties in defiance of government health guidelines.
The new lockdown also affects all parks, restaurants, bakeries, beauty salons, malls and bookstores.
There appeared to be no respite in sight to the virus’s spread as Iran’s vaccine rollout lagged. Only some 200,000 doses have been administered in the country of 84 million, according to the World Health Organization.
COVAX, an international collaboration to deliver the vaccine equitably across the world, delivered its first shipment to Iran on Monday from the Netherlands containing 700,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses.
The Health Ministry said there were more than 19,600 new infections on Saturday, including 193 deaths. The confirmed death toll since the beginning of the outbreak stood at more than 64,200.
Hadi Minaie, a shop owner at Tehran’s Grand Bazaar, said mismanagement was the reason for the new surge and the government should have prevented people’s movements during Nowruz – not at a time when people need to earn a living.
“Nobody can say the lockdown should not have been imposed. But better management would have been enforcing it during Nowruz holiday when everywhere was already closed not now that everyone wants to work and earn a living,” he said.
“Lockdowns are only effective to some extent but for how long should the people be paying the price,” said Alireza Ghadirian, a carpet seller at the bazaar. He said the government needed to do more to provide vaccines.
Authorities have done little to enforce lockdown restrictions and originally resisted a nationwide lockdown to salvage an economy already devastated by tough U.S. sanctions. A year into the pandemic, public fatigue and intransigence has deepened.
Saeed Valizadeh, a motorcyclist who earns his living transporting passengers and light packages from the bazaar, said if the government paid a stipend to low-income citizens, then they could afford to stay at home.
“Those who are wealthy have no problem staying home but we can’t,” he said.
President Hassan Rouhani said several factors played a role in the rising number of cases but the prime culprit was the U.K. variant of the virus that entered Iran from Iraq.
Earlier this year, the country kicked off its coronavirus inoculation campaign, administering a limited number of Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses to medical workers.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Iraq, authorities introduced new measures to bolster vaccinations among citizens including restrictions on air travel.
The health ministry said it requested airlines to not sell tickets to travelers unless they show proof they were vaccinated. Workers at hospitals, restaurants, malls and shops would require a vaccination card as well.
The measures have been introduced amid a low demand in vaccinations among Iraqis, many of whom remain suspicious of the government’s inoculation plans.