Governor Inslee has now issued a Stay Home, Stay Healthy order (that you can read here). I urge you to please stay home as much as you can during this time. Essential businesses may continue to operate. You can find out more on this issue here.
With information changing rapidly, it can be confusing and difficult to keep up with the latest on closures. Here’s a great infographic from the Seattle Times to explain what’s allowed and what isn’t, and here’s another resource to help explain what’s open and what’s closed.
Why is this order needed
This order is needed to keep people safe and to slow the spread of infections. This will buy us time to make more masks and ventilators, improve our testing capacity, prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed, and develop a vaccine.
What to do if you are ill
If you are ill with fever and a cough or non-acute shortness of breath, stay home. If you are unsure of how to care for yourself or are concerned about your condition, call your health care provider for advice. If you feel you need to visit your doctor, call them first. Keep yourself separated from other people and animals in your home. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands often. For more information see:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for steps to take if you are sick with COVID-19 or think you may be infected with coronavirus
- CDC guidance to stop the spread of COVID-19 (pdf)
- Washington State Department of Health information on getting tested
It’s possible our state’s health care system will be over capacity at some point. Triage tents are being built at hospitals all over the state, and a new 200-bed recovery hospital is being built in Shoreline. The best thing you can do to help slow the spread of the virus is to stay home as much as possible and practice strong social distancing.
Filing for unemployment
Many businesses have been forced to close their doors and issue massive layoffs as a result of the outbreak. Thankfully Washington has one of the strongest sets of labor laws and programs in place, and we have agencies ready to help in your time of need.
The Employment Security Department (ESD) has information for employees and employers about possible benefits such as paid family and medical leave, unemployment benefits and SharedWork. Governor Inslee recently waived some unemployment insurance rules like the one-week wait time and job search requirements to get relief to families right away. And the benefits eligibility window will be retroactive to March 8.
Click here for a Q&A that provides answers to many of the frequently asked questions about qualifying for unemployment benefits.
Also recently announced, the U.S. Small Business Administration will be granting low-interest disaster relief loans to businesses in Washington state. If you’re a small business owner in need of relief, please go here for more information.
Much-needed emergency aid from Congress is will be signed by the president today. In addition to $1,200 checks being sent to households across the country, it appears workers will be eligible for an additional $600 per week for the next four months if they’ve lost their job due to the coronavirus. I’ll share more details as those become more widely available.
Also announced by Governor Inslee recently were protections for families related to housing. A 30-day moratorium for evictions resulting in nonpayment of rent is now in place. If you’re struggling to pay your rent as a result of the coronavirus, this will give you some flexibility to get back on track.
If you’re worried about upcoming mortgage payments, you can contact the Washington Homeownership Hotline at 1.877.894.HOME for more information and assistance.
If you need rental assistance, you can contact a housing counseling agency toll-free 1.800.569.4287. They can help point you in the right direction.
Resources for you and your family
Our state government agencies recently launched a website to help keep all our communities informed. The idea is to consolidate as much information and resources for you in one place to make it easy to find and access.
You can find it here: www.coronavirus.wa.gov
This website contains a wealth of information from Governor Jay Inslee’s office, our state agencies, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more. I encourage you to explore this website for yourselves, and to pass it on to others in our community who have questions.
As always, if you need any assistance connecting with state resources to help you and your family, please reach out to my office.
32nd Legislative District