You’re likely being reminded of the COVID-19 outbreak at every turn, as I am. Many in our state are mourning the loss of loved ones, including here in Clark County — where, sadly, the four confirmed cases of the virus have led to three deaths. I’m sorry for those families, and the many others with loved ones who are struggling to survive and recover from the virus.
There’s no question that this situation is frustrating, especially for families whose income has been disrupted, but this situation is also serious. Statistics are showing the infection rates are spread across all age brackets and that for those 30 and older the infection rates are very similar.
The coronavirus situation was front and center during the final couple of weeks of the 2020 legislative session, which ended on schedule six days ago. I promise to share a summary of the session soon, but for now I’ll just mention that one of the last bills approved included an appropriation of $175 million from the state’s “rainy-day fund” for public-health efforts related to limiting the spread of the novel coronavirus. That same bill also addressed the need for flexibility in graduation requirements and unemployment insurance.
Because our public schools are the part of state government affected most by COVID-19, I’ve made a point of reaching out to local school officials — principals, superintendents and school board members — to find out how they’re faring. I’m encouraged by the stories of how far teachers and bus drivers and others in Clark County are going to look after their students when it comes to providing learning materials, nutrition, internet access and more — some really impressive innovation in this unprecedented time. Still, I’m going to spend the noon hour tomorrow taking part in a webinar put on by the superintendent of public instruction (who served with me in the House), because I want to know how the state education office is supporting local districts, and ensure that being kept out of classrooms doesn’t put some kids at a disadvantage.
The executive branch of government and the legislative branch are in close contact during this emergency, and here’s some key information that came to me via a conference call earlier this afternoon:
- No “sheltering in place” order or state border closures expected for now
- Washington has 1,187 confirmed cases with 66 deaths
- 22 counties have at least one case, with the vast majority in King and Snohomish counties (167 cases have not been assigned to a particular county)
- 15,918 negative tests; nearly 7% of people testing positive
- 15 labs are now testing in our state, and testing capacity is increasing
On the legislative front, I also learned $75 million of the $175 million we allocated is being dispersed today across the state, and there also are plans to look closely at the budget updates the majority side approved before we adjourned — with an eye toward vetoing spending that isn’t truly necessary. The fact that the governor is looking to cut spending is another reminder that our state is in uncharted territory.
No one knows how long this will go on and what it will take to get a handle on it. Let’s focus on facts, do our best to not be fearful, and follow the precautions that we’re all being advised to follow so we can minimize the number of people needing hospitalization. Our hospitals and health-care professionals have limited capacity to treat people who react badly to the novel coronavirus, as they would for any other serious communicable illness.
Stay safe! Below is information that may be helpful to you regarding the outbreak. Most of the links are at the state-government level. And if you need other information, please let me know. I may not succeed but I’ll give it my best shot.
New State Website: coronavirus.wa.gov
Recent announcements and news releases from the Governor’s Office and Department of Health:
- Inslee announces statewide shutdown of restaurants, bars and expanded social gathering limits | March 16, 2020
- Inslee statement on statewide shutdown of restaurants, bars and limits on size of gatherings expanded | March 15, 2020
- Leave some for your neighbors: Don’t buy more than you need | March 14, 2020
- State waives costs for COVID-19 testing | March 14, 2020
- Inslee announces statewide school closures, expansion of limits on large gatherings | March 13, 2020
Information for parents from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
- Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources
- 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
Information for employers and employees
Governor’s Office | Partial list of resources to support economic retention and recovery related to COVID-19:
- COVID-19 resource list for impacted Washington businesses and workers
- Financial assistance.
- Export assistance.
- Employer and worker assistance.
- Insurance assistance.
Employment Security Department:
U.S. Small Business Administration:
- Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Department of Labor:
Department of Financial Institutions:
- Financial Resources for Washington Residents Impacted by COVID-19
- Accessing Your Financial Institution.
- Unemployment Help.
- Trouble Paying Credit Cards.
- Trouble Paying Your Mortgage.
- Trouble Paying Rent.
- Student Loans Deferment.
- Short Term and Emergency Loans.
- Paying Utilities.
- Insurance Issues.
- Avoiding Scams.
- At Home Financial Education Resources for Students.
- Additional Resources.
Department of Labor & Industries:
- Workers’ Compensation Coverage and Coronavirus (COVID-19) Common Questions
- Can COVID-19 ever be allowed as a work-related condition?
- When to file a claim.
- When will a claim likely be denied?
- How can I file a COVID-19 claim?
- Filing a worker’s compensation claim: Exposure vs. contraction of COVID-19
- Covered treatment and post-exposure care.
- Additional information on COVID-19.
Office of the Insurance Commissioner:
- Health insurance.
- For insurers and medical providers.
- Travel insurance.
- Other types of insurance
Information from Clark County Public Health:
Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- What You Need to Know.
- Resources for the Community.
- COVID-19 Cases in the U.S.
- Latest Updates
- Information for Healthcare Professionals
I welcome your questions about state government and the decisions I make in the state Senate. Please call or e-mail!
Yours in service,