Allowing only public projects is ‘inequitable’

   WHATCOM — Forty-second District Sen. Doug Ericksen is protesting Gov. Jay Inslee’s allowance of government construction projects while shutting down private ones.
  A letter from Ericksen, R-Ferndale, asks the governor to reconsider his interpretation that idles thousands of workers across the state on private construction projects, but keeps public ones going.
  The restrictions were announced Tuesday as clarification of the governor’s stay-at-home order against coronavirus. The state’s rationale is “to further a public purpose related to a public entity” — which apparently includes building publicly financed low-income housing, claims the senator.
  “To place public construction projects ahead of private construction is inequitable,” Ericksen writes. “It sends the wrong message to our citizenry that government is putting itself ahead of everyone else.”
  “If the shutdown of private construction is a medical necessity, then governmental construction should be halted as well,” he writes.
  If construction workers on public projects can find a way to work and maintain social distancing, workers can do the same on commercial and residential jobs, Ericksen says. “All construction must be treated the same.”
  • The two additional county COVID-19 deaths announced March 26 were of a male and a female both in their 90s, Whatcom Unified Command says.
  The female was a resident at Shuksan Healthcare Center and passed away there Wednesday. The male had been a resident at Summit Place Assisted Living, also in Bellingham, and died while in the hospital being treated for coronavirus.
  The Whatcom County Health Department has learned of additional confirmed cases at a small number of long-term care facilities in the county, and is working with each to determine further testing needs and to do contact investigations.