Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2020 legislative session ended last Thursday, after 60 days. Normally, I would send you an update on some of the highlights of my work in Olympia. But this is not a time for politics. Most of us are concerned about the effects of the coronavirus and how to protect and provide for our families and loved ones during this time.
COVID-19 is a serious health risk. Now more than ever, we must all come together and look out for not only ourselves but also for others. Along with health concerns, businesses and workers are suddenly faced with hard times. As the national and state government response to the emerging situation continues to develop, my office will focus on providing as much accurate, useful information as possible.
Resources and information
This email includes links to health resources, financial assistance for small businesses, unemployment information, and school closure facts. Additionally, I will be hosting an emergency telephone town hall on Monday, March 23 to answer questions and listen to your concerns about coronavirus response efforts. Please consider joining the call.
Telephone Town Hall
When: Monday, March 23, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dial: (360) 209-6593 Press * (the star key) to ask a question.
Have a question about how to participate? Contact my office at (360) 786-7806
The Legislature approves funding to combat coronavirus
On the final day of the 2020 session, the Legislature approved House Bill 2965, which uses $175 million from the rainy day fund for state and local agencies to fight the disease and another $25 million in aid to businesses that have shut down because of the outbreak. The bill also will allow the state Board of Education to grant emergency waivers to high school students who won’t meet certain graduation requirements if their schools are closed for extended periods.
Counties reporting coronavirus
As of Wednesday, March 17, 2020, at 3:15 p.m. the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) reported 1012 confirmed coronavirus cases and 52 deaths. There is one case in Grays Harbor and one in Lewis, and for now, none in Cowlitz, Pacific or Wahkiakum counties.
- For the latest information on the location of confirmed cases, go to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) website.
- DOH’s center is open 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week, and can be reached at 1-800-525-0127.
- For information from local public health offices around Washington state, click here.
On Friday, March 13, the governor announced expanded protections against COVID-19, which included the closure of all private and public schools. Additional information on these closures can be found here:
- Guidance for Long-term School Closures as of March 13, 2020
- School Closure FAQ
- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in K–12 Schools: A Parent Guide
Dining, entertainment facility closures
The governor announced a statewide emergency proclamation to close restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities. Take out and delivery services will still be allowed. The ban does not apply to grocery stores or pharmacies. The changes are in effect until March 31. Click here to watch the governor’s announcement.
Unemployment benefits for affected workers
- The Washington State Employment Security Department has announced expanded benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. Click here to see if you qualify.
- The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has developed a list of financial resources for Washington consumers impacted by COVID-19. Click here to view that list.
- Information for businesses impacted by COVID-19 is changing daily. For a resource list of help for businesses and workers, follow this link.
- Health insurers have been ordered to waive deductibles and co-pays for coronavirus testing. You can get more information about how different types of insurance coverage here. For Washingtonians without health insurance, the Washington Health Benefits Exchange opened a limited-time special enrollment period through April 8. Click here for more information.
- As of today, two Spokane Veterans Home residents have been hospitalized and are being tested for COVID-19. For more veteran updates, click here.
Other helpful links:
We can make it through this crisis together
We will get through this and be fine. But, for now, we are in a situation that requires attention and action. If you need help navigating any of the resources in this email or have other questions and concerns, call my office. I’m happy to help.