OLYMPIA – Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig said the Legislature took steps before adjourning last week to swiftly support coronavirus response efforts by Gov. Jay Inslee, including the release of $200 million in emergency funds appropriated by the Washington State Legislature to help fund the state’s COVID-19 response.

The funds will be used for hospital surge capacity, testing, and other efforts at local health departments. The Legislature also authorized immediate funding that may be used for shelter needs related to COVID-19, which the Department of Commerce is already in the process of distributing to counties and cities.

“Leaders in the Legislature will continue to coordinate with the governor’s staff and our partners in local governments to mitigate both the health emergency and the economic crisis that is unfolding in our state,” Billig said. “I admire the work of the governor and his staff under difficult circumstances, and his important warning for all of us to do our part to stay away from public gatherings and slow the spread of coronavirus. In concert with his efforts, state leaders will continue to take any and all actions we can to protect the people of our state.”

Before the Legislature adjourned last week, lawmakers approved other key measures to protect Washingtonians during the coronavirus outbreak:

  • Ensuring people receiving unemployment insurance can continue to do so even if they can’t meet the work search requirement due to quarantine.
  • Supporting businesses that rehire employees who had to go on unemployment insurance because of the coronavirus emergency.
  • Reimbursing nursing homes that aid in the coronavirus response.
  • Allowing school employees to maintain health insurance eligibility for the rest of the school year even if they come up short of required work hours because of the coronavirus state of emergency.
  • Giving flexibility to the State Board of Education to allow high school seniors to graduate this year if they were on track before the emergency declaration.

“Public health is our first priority, with mitigating the economic impacts from this outbreak not far behind,” Billig said. “I know Washingtonians will remain resilient during this difficult time, while at the state level we’ll continue to do our part to deliver all the resources necessary to slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe.”

Primary state response websites:

Washington State’s official COVID-19 site: www.coronavirus.wa.gov
Washington State Department of Health: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus
Washington Employment Security Department: https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19