March 4, 2021
Washington’s new Secretary of Health, Dr. Umair Shah, comes to our state after being executive director of the public health department in Harris County, Texas — the third-largest county in the nation, with a population two-thirds that of the state of Washington.
He takes the reins of the state’s Department of Health in the midst of the COVID pandemic, with the immediate challenge of overseeing vaccine distribution throughout the state. President Joe Biden recently stated everyone who wants a vaccine should be able to get one by May — we talk with Dr. Shah about whether that will happen in Washington, the danger posed by COVID variants, and his other priorities as Washington’s new head of health.
Plus, over one-third of Washington’s 49 legislative districts have at least one new member this year. These first-term lawmakers come to Olympia — without actually coming to Olympia, the 2021 session being held largely virtually during COVID.
We sit down with Republican State Sen. Jeff Wilson of Longview, and Republican State Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen of Puyallup. What prompted them to run for the Legislature, what issues are they focused on, and what’s it like to be a first-term state legislator over zoom?