While this is a concerning and uncertain time in terms of both the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, I want to make sure you are aware of some of the state and local resources available to you, as well as update you on the recent actions taken by the governor and the Legislature related to the outbreak.
I know the resilience of Washingtonians combined with the support of our government and our friends, families and neighbors will get us through this crisis.
The governor and Legislature have taken the following steps to:
- Appropriate $200 million in emergency funding to support testing, expand hospital capacity, and support our state and local public health response
- Expand unemployment insurance for people who are quarantined and waived the one week waiting period to receive approval
- Increase access to health care coverage by opening WA Health Exchange enrollment for anyone who does not currently have health insurance
- Support businesses that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance because of the coronavirus emergency
- Reimburse nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response
- Allow school employees to maintain health insurance eligibility for the rest of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours due to this emergency
- Adopt a 30-day statewide moratorium on evictions
- Encourage utilities to suspend shut-offs & waive late fees for out-of-work customers
- Authorize flexibility on state tax collections and waive late fees on licensing renewals
- Provide flexibility to allow high school seniors to graduate this year if they were on track for graduation before the emergency declaration
Here is a list of resources to answer questions you may have.
- The state has developed a central portal for all information related to the COVID-19 outbreak in Washington.
- If you are an employee who is missing work because of illness, limited hours, or temporary layoffs, the Employment Security Department has comprehensive resources here.
- If your small business is impacted, the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) may be able to provide assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program to businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury. These loans can help small businesses meet financial obligations and cover operating expenses. You can find more info and apply here.
- If you are looking for work, the Employment Security Department is doing some emergency hiring around the state. Search and apply here.
- If you are part of an organization serving the immediate needs of people impacted coronavirus, the Health Sciences and Services Authority of Spokane County is making funds available.
- If you are concerned about paying your utility bills at this time, the City of Spokane is suspending water service shut-offs for non-payment of city utility bills and won’t charge fees for late utility payments until further notice. Customers still will be responsible to pay for monthly city utility bills. The city will work with customers to make repayment arrangements or other accommodations. The city also operates the U-Help program that provides qualified low-income households with annual one-time emergency financial assistance to pay their utility bills. For information on how to access the program, call the Salvation Army at 509.325.6821.
- If you are currently uninsured, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period, and you can find information here.
- If you have a child in Spokane Public Schools, schools are closed through at least Friday, April 24.
- Starting Thursday, March 19, breakfast and lunch will be available to all children up to 18 years old. It is a federal meal program requirement that students must be present to pick up a meal. Meals can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday at these locations:
- Lincoln Heights
- Moran Prairie
- Mullan Road
- Shaw MS
- Rogers HS
- Shadle Park HS
- Ferris HS
- If your child is experiencing anxiety about COVID-19, Seattle Children’s Hospital wrote a helpful article about helping them cope.
- If you are seeing instances of price-gouging and scams during this public health crisis, Attorney General Bob Ferguson is gathering complaints here.
- If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, and is concerned about staying in the home or in close proximity to their abuser more frequently, call 1-800-799-7233, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
- If you are in need of food, or want to help others in need, food banks in Spokane are currently open for operation and for donations, you can find locations here.
- Please continue to support local businesses. Many restaurants are still open for takeout and pickup. The City of Spokane has made parking free downtown for 10 minutes to facilitate curbside meal pickup.