Local stars light the way

Dear President Trump,

We got to watch Governor Inslee’s press conference this afternoon and Representative Jayapal’s virtual Town Hall this evening (we also tried to get into the one she is doing with Senator Warren right now, but all the lines were at capacity). As dire and awful as things are right now, and look to be for the foreseeable future, it was comforting to take in these two events and to get to see our Washington State leadership in action. Both Inslee and Jayapal were smart, down to earth (as in relatable and real), and compassionate and they seemed to be telling us the truth about what is going on, what is being done about it, and what they don’t know and/or are still working on.

Inslee shared his press conference with Mayors Jenny Durkan (Seattle) and Victoria Woodards (Tacoma) as well as with the state’s lead fiscal officer (I didn’t catch her name). They were all supportive of one another and each added their own unique perspectives based on their purviews. At one point, Inslee circled back to something Durkan said, which really did, and does, bears repeating; she noted that right now there are no good choices, but there are good decisions. This is a hard reality, but it’s true. For example, it’s not that shuttering businesses to limit covid-19 exposures is a good choice, but it is a good decision. It’s not a good choice to put the city, county, state, and nation into even more debt to offset the impacts of the pandemic, but it’s a good decision. Unfortunately, we could go on like this until the cows come home….

Late in the session, a reporter asked Inslee whether he foresees our region needing to go to a shelter in place response and what would go into making such a decision. The Governor said that he couldn’t say for sure, but that it is a possibility that’s on the table. He went on to list four or five different types of data (out of dozens and dozens of factors) they are looking at every day to try and figure out when more intense measures need to be taken. It was incredibly reassuring how nimble, non-defensive, and on-point he stayed throughout and it was especially great to have a little glimpse into what kinds of factors are being considered as these tough choices and decisions are being made.

Jayapal shared her Town Hall with Dr. Alex Greninger, a laboratory medicine doctor at the UW. After some initial remarks about recent congressional and White House actions to address the economic impacts of the pandemic, she asked Greninger a series of disease-oriented questions, which he responded to super thoughtfully, including being clear where the science just isn’t firmed up yet on this virus that’s only about 5 months old. At one point he called out the terrific collaboration and cooperation among the different medical institutions here in Washington State and how everyone is pitching in and adding to the collective wisdom on how to deal with this thing. The combination of dedication, intelligence, and humility was refreshing and also reassuring; the humility piece being especially front and center for me in that assessment.

After Greninger left the meeting, Jayapal took questions for another 20 minutes and then shared her sense that our country’s longstanding disparities and inequities are playing out both in how this crisis is being handled at the federal level and who it’s impacting the most. She closed with some inspiring, comforting words about taking care of ourselves and one another and how we’ll get through this together.

I know I can’t tune you out indefinitely, but it was sure nice to focus locally today.

May we be safe.
May we save space for happiness no matter what.
May we be healthy and strong.
May we be kind to ourselves and to one another.

Tracy Simpson

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