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Daily Archives: October 14th, 2020


The current hearings on the nomination of a new member of the high court has taken over the real issue, the 2020 vote, the 2020 census and foremost the 2020 “Trump” virus which is a pandemic. Not being an elected official or politician, I just wonder why these seasoned people are spending time on a settled matter rather than getting out the vote. The Dupublicans have already stated their case and we know that this hearing for the high court is just a formality. The bigger issue is the vote to elect new people to govern. Once that is done then the issue of justices and the Census can be addressed. This administration has diddled this country to the point of collapse with aid of a corrupt Congress. If the Scamocrats were anywhere close to smart, the way forward is the vote. Ignore the distractions of the administration, the vote is the way forward. Once there is new leadership, the following important issues need to be addressed:

  1. Pandemic-testing, contact tracing and vaccine
  2. Get economic relief out to the people
  3. Complete the Census or extend it to get a accurate count
  4. Address the immigration issue.

This is simplistic yet more effective than what is happening now. To continue a done deal while letting important issues falter is ludicrous and potentially a failing action. It must be remembered the country is in the hands of a failed businessman with no skills beyond lies and misrepresentation. This with the assistance of a self serving Congress and a cabal of aides masquerading as public servants.

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“I chair the council for King County, Washington — an area larger than 14 states — and we have been voting exclusively by mail since 2009 with virtually zero problems.”

Claudia Balducci

Guest Writer 10/07/2020 01:00 pm ET Updated 6 days ago

In the upper left corner of the United States resides an inconvenient truth for President Donald Trump and his followers: A highly successful mail-in voting system.

Amid a pandemic that has made in-person interactions dangerous, Trump and his allies have attempted to sow fear and uncertainty around mail-in voting even as he attends in-person rallies and events that we now know may have exposed hundreds to COVID-19. But his dangerous tall tales of fraud and tossed ballots are readily dispelled against the backdrop of Washington state’s entirely by-mail voting system. 

Voting by mail is the safest, most secure way to get this election done and to restore trust in a bedrock of our democracy.

I know this because I chair the council for King County, Washington, which has run vote-by-mail elections for over a decade. We are the largest jurisdiction in the United States to conduct all elections by mail. Our nonpartisan regional government represents 2.2 million people who live in Seattle, Bellevue and dozens of other cities and surrounding communities. And we have been voting exclusively by mail here since 2009, and statewide in Washington since 2011.

This means that our elections — for president, Congress, governor, county and city councils, school boards, special districts — are all conducted fully by mail. And I can tell you without any doubt whatsoever that Trump, and those repeating his propaganda, are wrong about voting by mail. 

Voting by mail is simple. It works. It’s convenient and secure. It has bipartisan support. In fact, Washington state Republicans overwhelmingly support the system, including our Republican Secretary of State, who herself was elected by mail-in ballots, in our increasingly blue-trending state. Even after being inundated with months of the president’s outright lies, a new poll released last week by the respected western states research, public affairs and communications firm Strategies 360 found that a majority of conservatives in our state still support it. 

Our system has been reviewed and found to be very accurate. In the 2018 election, Washington state found just 142 cases of improper voting out of 3.1 million ballots cast, an error rate of 0.00004581.

A well-designed vote-by-mail system is at least as secure ― and far more inclusive ― than voting in person. In Washington, we take a multitude of steps to ensure that neither ballots, nor ballot drop boxes, are tampered with. Ballots are tracked and verified. Votes are not dumped or double-counted. Only ballots from confirmed registered voters are counted. Our system has been reviewed and found to be very accurate. In the 2018 election, Washington state found just 142 cases of improper voting out of 3.1 million ballots cast, an error rate of 0.00004581.

In King County, the effect of our robust vote-by-mail system means voter turnout in record numbers. We saw 82% voter turnout in the 2016 general election, and 76% in 2018. Compare that with the national turnout of 61.4% in 2016 and 53.4% in 2018, according to U.S. Census Bureau records. Indeed, an August study published in Science Advances found that mail-in voting increases voter participation, often significantly. We are so confident that our system is accessible to everyone that our county’s nonpartisan elections director has credibly set an audacious voter turnout goal of 90% in this year’s general election.

Voting by mail also reduces the opportunity for voter suppression through intimidation or other factors and it offers a physically distant way to vote as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on. Voters cast their ballot from the privacy of their home and then mail their ballots (no postage necessary in Washington state) or drop them in a ballot box without interacting with anyone. 

President Trump seems to fear this ease of voting. During the first presidential debate last week, he told his followers to go out to the polls and “watch very carefully,” a suggestion that could amount to illegal voter intimidation. Earlier this month, Trump supporters blocked voters from entering a polling place in Virginia. But with mail-in ballots, neither he nor his henchmen can stand in the way.

So, what can we do? First, make a plan for how and when you’ll vote. Check your registration, be sure your ballot will be mailed to your current address or update it if you need to. If you are traveling away from home, request a ballot be sent to you if your state or county allows it. Talk to your friends and family about voting and how you can be sure your voice is heard. Vote early if you can. Once you cast your vote, track your ballot. You can track your ballot in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

This pandemic-year election will chart the course for the future of our country. Voters must be given every opportunity to take part in it. Vote-by-mail is the best way to give all voters every opportunity to take part in it. We must ignore the fearmongering and attempts to suppress our vote and instead embrace this safe and easy method that allows everyone to have a say in our selecting our government leaders.

Claudia Balducci serves as Chair of the Metropolitan King County Council, the governing body for King County. With Seattle as the seat, King County is home to Amazon, Zillow, Starbucks and Microsoft, among others, and is one of the largest jurisdictions in the nation, as well as one of the fastest-growing. Follow her on Twitter at @KccClaudia.

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Correction: An earlier version of this essay included an error regarding the error rate of voting in King County, Washington. This has been corrected.

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CORONAVIRUS

5 Flu And COVID-19 Myths People Need To Stop Believing

Flu season is just getting started, and misinformation about influenza and the coronavirus is already swirling.

By  Catherine Pearson

10/12/2020 05:45am EDT | Updated October 12, 2020

Flu season and the COVID-19 pandemic are set to collide. Here’s what you need to know. 

While no one knows exactly how it will play out, it is safe to say that the United States is heading into a flu season unlike any other.

COVID-19 is still surging around much of the country. And though experts believe influenza rates might be lower than usual (more on that in a moment), we’ll still collectively be facing multiple contagious respiratory illnesses at the same time. A “twindemic,” if you will.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s “likely” that the viruses that cause the flu and the viruses that cause COVID-19 will both be circulating this fall and winter. It’s an unsettling prospect, particularly for those in high-risk categories. And to top it off, there is so much misinformation about COVID-19, the flu and the vaccines.

Don’t fall victim to the mistruths. Here are five big misconceptions people have about the illnesses, which everyone needs to unlearn as we head into flu season and a possible second wave of COVID-19

Myth: The flu won’t be a problem because we’re wearing masks.

Doctors “are hoping — but not betting on — a lighter influenza season this year as people practice physical distancing, mask wearing and better hand hygiene,” said Dr. Timothy Laird, interim chief medical officer of Health First Medical Group. Sometimes you can do just about everything right — mask up, maintain social distance, wash your hands — and still catch a virus. Which is why layering preventive measures is so important. People can get the flu by touching surfaces or objects that have been contaminated with flu viruses (which is also true with COVID-19, although that isn’t the primary mode of transmission).

“Everything we’re doing reduces risk,” said Dr. Aaron Milstone, an epidemiologist and professor of pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “It doesn’t make risk zero.”

(But mask skeptics, take note: This doesn’t mean you should leave your face covering at home. Experts overwhelmingly agree wearing a mask is far better than nothing for reducing transmission.)

Myth: The flu vaccine could make you sick, weak or more vulnerable to COVID-19.

The persistent claim that the flu vaccine can give you the flu just is not true, experts say. However, you could develop a flulike reaction to the vaccine (including muscle aches and fever) as your body produces antibodies.

“You may get a sore arm, maybe even feel a bit achy or have a low grade fever or scratchy throat,” Laird said. “But that’s not an illness, that is a side effect experienced by a small number of people with nearly any vaccination.”

There are a few other possibilities for why you might get sick after vaccination: You could catch the flu in the two-week window between getting your shot and when it takes effect. Or you could get sick if you’re exposed to a flu virus that isn’t a good match with those used in this year’s vaccine.

But the vaccine itself will not give you an illness. That’s a key misconception to clear up now for anyone who is reluctant to get vaccinated over concerns the shot will make them sick and weaken their immune system amid a pandemic, making them more vulnerable to COVID-19. It won’t.

On the other hand, it is possible to get both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time, which could be “catastrophic” to the immune system, some experts warn. So getting a flu shot is particularly important.

The flu shot will not make you sick or more susceptible to COVID-19.

Myth: The flu vaccine could “mess” with a COVID-19 vaccine.

If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available during flu season, after you have already received your flu shot, “there should be no problem getting a subsequent vaccine any time this winter,” Milstone said.

“We give vaccines together all the time,” he explained. “The only time we sometimes worry about separating vaccines with a little bit of time is when we give a live viral vaccine.”

For example, doctors might space out other vaccinations around the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine, so patients get the full immune response. But all the injectable flu vaccines currently available right now are not live vaccines, Milstone said, so it shouldn’t be a concern.

Myth: COVID-19 and the flu are essentially the same.

Despite President Donald Trump’s continued assertions that the flu and COVID-19 are so similar they are basically the same, that absolutely isn’t true.

It’s not true in terms of the effect on the body; it’s not true in terms of how long people are contagious or how contagious the various viruses are; and it’s not even true in terms of who tends to get really sick.

“There’s a difference epidemiologically,” Milstone said.

It’s also not true for death counts. Approximately 34,000 people died in the U.S. during the 2018-2019 flu season, which really picked up in November and pretty much wound down in February. By contrast, more than 211,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. in the last seven months. And unlike the flu, which tends to strike in the winter, COVID-19 cases surged all summer long.

Distinguishing the difference has implications for everything ― from how doctors might watch for more serious developments to how long someone needs to quarantine and how people who’ve come into contact with a sick individual should behave.

Which brings us to …

Myth: If I were to get sick, I would manage COVID-19 and the flu in the same way.

There is definitely significant overlap in the symptoms of COVID-19 and influenza, like fever, chills, fatigue and cough. They are also both highly contagious respiratory viruses. So in some ways, yes, a person who becomes ill with the flu might behave pretty much the same as a person who becomes ill with COVID-19.

“There are a few common principles to keep in mind. First, you are contagious,” Laird said. “Protect others. Wear a mask if around them. Everyone should practice excellent hand hygiene, and you should isolate yourself as much as possible. Secondly, hydrate and rest.”

But knowing which particular virus you have will likely change how you proceed beyond that. Researchers are still grappling with exactly how long someone can spread COVID-19, but they believe the period of contagiousness is longer than with the flu. With the flu, people are generally cleared to head back into the world once they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours; with COVID-19 it’s at least 10 days since symptoms appeared and the individual has been fever-free for at least 24 hours.

That’s one reason why doctors, like Milstone, are advocating that people who develop symptoms be particularly diligent about getting tested this season.

“I think most people are going to need to get a test result to know: When can I safely return to work, school, daycare, etcetera,” Milstone said.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available as of publication, but guidance can change as scientists discover more about the virus. Please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most updated recommendations

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