Washington state agencies brace for staffing disaster following Inslee's vaccine deadline

Democrat Governor Jay Inslee issued the mandate in August and unlike other mandates across the country, provided no test-out option. His message was crystal clear, obey or lose your job.

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

The deadline for most state government, health care and school workers in Washington to get their mandated coronavirus vaccination is Monday, October 18. Democrat Governor Jay Inslee issued the mandate in August and unlike other mandates across the country, provided no test-out option. His message was crystal clear, obey or lose your job.

This is despite the Washington state Department of Health reporting, as of October 11, that 77.6 percent of Washingtonians ages 12 and older have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 71.4 percent of people 12 and older are fully vaccinated, well past the CDC’s parameters for herd immunity, even without factoring in the number of residents who already contracted the virus.

Last week, the Seattle Police moved to "Stage 3" operations. Detectives and other non-patrol officers are required to come in uniform ready to be deployed to serve as first responders to 9-1-1 calls.

Friday night, a letter was sent to the department's employees outlining a phase 4 rollout. According to KOMO News, "The designation is reserved for the department's most extreme circumstances, and the last time the department reached the status was around the time Seattle police dismantled the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest, or CHOP, zone last July." Seattle police were placed on 12-hour shifts that may have only one off-day a week.

SPD has already lost more than 300 officers in the past year, and hundreds more could face termination Monday if they don't comply with Democrat Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan order which echoed Inslee’s vaccine mandates.

The latest numbers from the Mayor’s office show that 98 officers are seeking exemptions and 186 haven't turned in any paperwork.

The department has lost hundreds of officers since the city council decided to defund the department in response to the 2020 riots in the city following the death of George Floyd. Meanwhile, 911 response times have ranged from 10 minutes to over an hour or more in a city where crime has skyrocketed.

Already, Washington state's most populous county has seen a massive spike in fatal shootings in the first nine months of 2021, already exceeding 2020's year-end totals. As of the end of September, 73 people had been killed and another 283 injured in shootings, according to data from the King County Prosecutor's Shots Fired Project.

Washington state Patrol could see over 100 officers leave the force because of Inslee's mandate. The Washington Department of Transportation is unable to cover the shortfall after having their numbers affected as well. Viral videos showed reprogrammed DOT message boards blaming Inslee for the loss of employees and even touted the now viral meme "Let's go Brandon."

In a viral video, WSP Trooper Robert LaMay during his final shift Friday in Yakima County, told Inslee to "Kiss my a**."

It is not just policing that will be affected. If Seattle Mayor Durkan follows through on terminating unvaccinated city employees, the Seattle Fire Department is predicted to lose 5-10 engines. 55 Seattle Fire employees haven't submitted vaccination records, 54 of them are uniformed firefighters. Among those who havent submitted records are chief officers, firefighters, and EMTs.

The potential loss of 54 firefighters will only enhance the current staffing crisis in the department. SFD told employees to prepare for changes in the coming days after the vaccination deadline and provided contingency staffing plans, including cancelling all non-essential training and community events, limiting annual building inspections strictly to schools, prioritizing which units could be out-of-service due to the day's staffing levels, etc.

In the City of Redmond, an estimated 20 Redmond firefighters, 1 in 8 full-time fire department employees according to The Seattle Times, aren't vaccinated and have no plans to do so. Other fire departments across the state have been warning of staffing shortages.

The state hospital association estimated that approximately 3,000 to 7,500 hospital staff could either leave or lose their jobs over the mandates. Rural Washington hospitals are likely to see the biggest negative impact from the staffing crisis.

Students forced to stay home last year when teachers unions in the state refused to allow schools to open will be without transportation. According to Seattle Public Schools (SPS), nearly 140 bus routes will be cancelled which will impact approximately 7,000 students. The impacted routes are suspended indefinitely.

Seattle Public Schools contracts with First Student, a private company, to service the district. Public and private bus companies were already facing staffing shortages before the mandate.

King County Metro canceled another 80 morning trips on Friday after cancelling 26 trips on Thursday morning.

Washington state ferry workers have also been protesting the mandate, causing severe delays as well as the cancellation of hundreds of sailings over the last few weeks. It is one of the largest ferry systems in the country and thousands of Washington state residents rely on the state's ferry system for daily transportation.

On top of ongoing issues with the supply chain, Washington will now be hit with potentially dangerous consequences of Inslee's mandates simply because compliance is not voluntary. What happens on Monday, and in the weeks to come is completely his responsibility, and his burden.


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