Friends and neighbors,
As we are entering the second week of Gov. Inslee’s Stay at Home order, I understand that this crisis can affect each of us in unique ways. I want to start by expressing my sincerest condolences to the families who have lost loved ones or been impacted by COVID-19. This is an unprecedented time, and feelings of anxiety and grief are valid as we are all coping with a new normal.
For general information including up-to-date statistics and available resources, the Washington State coronavirus website is the best place to go. For more specified resources, you can find links throughout this newsletter.
To those of you who are recently grappling with unemployment, I know how scary this time of uncertainty must be. You are not alone, and Washington State has worked to expand unemployment benefits to more residents as demand grows, including waiving work search requirements and the one-week waiting period for eligibility. To apply for unemployment, visit the Employment Security Department website. On this same website, you can find information regarding Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program.
While there has been a massive increase in requests for unemployment, ESD is still working to aid Washingtonians who qualify. The graphic below, taken from the above website, details who may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Small Business Support
Many small businesses have closed shop or are struggling to stay afloat under the Stay Home order. If you are a small business owner, you can visit the Governor’s website for a list of resources available to you including disaster relief loans, deferred payments and more.
Thurston County has recently compiled a list of frequently asked question as well, which you can find with answers here.
Stay Home, Stay Healthy
More important than anything right now is to remember that if you stay home, you and those around you are more likely to stay healthy. Washington has already seen a decrease in the rate of spread of coronavirus, but that’s because residents are practicing proper social distancing guidelines. We can’t beat this virus and make it through if we stop these practices. By staying home and limiting travel to essential trips to the grocery store or medical appointments, we will save lives and flatten the curve of infections. So that’s what we all need to be doing. Below is a helpful graphic of what is or isn’t allowed under Gov. Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation. You can also find illustrations from the Seattle Times detailing acceptable activities.
Ferry Service Updates
All ferry routes are maintaining their winter schedule through at least April 25 due to a decrease in ridership. The Seattle/Bremerton and Seattle/Bainbridge routes will operate on their one-boat schedule, and the last round trip of the night for both routes will be suspended. The Fauntleroy/Southworth/Vashon route will be on a two-boat schedule, with the last four daily roundtrips being suspended. Due to the popularity of the Edmonds/Kingston and Clinton/Mukilteo routes, their frequencies will not be reduced. To get up to date information, or to see frequently asked questions about route changes, visit the Washington State Ferries website.
Lastly, to all of our healthcare workers, our first responders, our grocery store employees, our delivery service drivers, our janitorial staff, and everyone else working at the front line of this pandemic – thank you. We are stronger as a community because of your efforts and countless hours of service.
To get through this crisis, we must work together. These sacrifices in our daily lives are difficult to adjust to, but will ensure more of us stay healthy, and relieve some of the stress our health care system is facing. It’s scary to live through an event that we don’t have all the answers to, but I am confident we will get through this together. As always, if you have questions, please reach out to my office at Liz.Lovelett@leg.wa.gov and we will point you in the direction of the resources you need.
All my best,
Sen. Liz Lovelett.