curated by Emerald Staff
A plan drafted by King County Executive Dow Constantine, King County Council Chair Claudia Balducci, and King County Board of Health Chair Joe McDermott and approved today by state Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman immediately allows limited and modified openings for a wide range of businesses, recreation, and personal activities in King County.
Businesses are required to follow the state Department of Health’s specific guidance but must adjust their occupancy to the levels identified below. The State defines an establishment’s capacity as the fire code. The intent is to limit business operations to a level that allows for social distancing. Additionally, businesses in retail, professional services, and real estate must take steps to reduce indoor operations to thirty minutes. This is not meant to be timed to the second – no one is expected to have a stopwatch – but customers should be informed why it is important to limit close interactions.
Here is an overview of what’s happening in key sectors across King County:
• Outdoor dining activities is allowed at 50 percent of capacity with all tables and chairs maintaining 6 feet of distance, though additional seating will be allowed provided it follows Public Health – Seattle & King County’s best practices. Restaurants will also need to go through the normal process within their city – or King County if the establishment is located within unincorporated King County – to seek approval to expand outdoor seating.
• Indoor dining services may operate at 25 percent of capacity, provided such tables and chairs are more than 6 feet away from each other.
• All non-essential retail activities may operate but an establishment’s occupancy may not be not be higher than 15 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to less than 30 minutes, with face-to-face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• Essential retail activities may continue to operate according to the existing state regulations.
Personal services: Cosmetologists, Hairstylists, Barbers, Estheticians, Master Estheticians, Manicurists, Nail Salon Workers, Electrologists, Permanent Makeup Artists, Tattoo Artists, Cosmetology Schools and Esthetics Schools
• All activities may operate but the number of clients served will be limited to no more than 25 percent of capacity or one person if it is a single bed/chair studio.
Professional services: Accountants, architects, attorneys, engineers, financial advisors, information technologists, insurance agents, tax preparers, and other office-based occupations that are typically serving a client base
• All activities allowed but an establishment’s occupancy should not be higher than 25 percent of capacity.
• Businesses are directed to provide signage encouraging indoor visits to be less than 30 minutes, with face to face interactions limited to 30 minutes.
• All construction, including those activities for which social distancing may not be maintained and the start of new construction projects, is authorized to resume.
“This important step in our COVID-19 response reflects all the sacrifice and hard work that our community has put into fighting this disease. The success of this guidance depends on business owners and community members embracing public health best practices, and understanding that one size doesn’t fit all,” said Executive Constantine. “By opening our economy carefully and deliberately, we make sure to stay healthy and continue down the path to full recovery.”
Gov. Jay Inslee extended protections for renters today as COVID-19 continues to impact the finances of Washingtonians statewide.
Proclamation 20-19.2 extends the prior eviction moratorium for 60 days (through August 1), and makes modifications to the prior moratorium. The modifications include, but are not limited to:
- Prohibiting retaliation against any tenant who invokes rights or protections under the proclamation;
- Permitting eviction based on property damage, except for damage that is not urgent in nature, including conditions that were known or knowable to the landlord prior to the COVID-19 crisis;
- Establishing a defense to any lawsuit for tenants if a landlord fails to offer a reasonable repayment plan;
- Establishing a minimum of a 14-day length of stay at a hotel, motel or at other non-traditional dwelling situations in order to trigger the application of this proclamation to those dwelling situations; and
- Allowing owners to evict tenants if the owner plans to occupy or sell the property, after providing at least 60 days’ notice; and
- Exempting commercial property rent increases that were executed in a rental agreement prior to the date the state of emergency was declared, on February 29.
Other restrictions, including the prohibition on assessing late fees or other charges, are continued in this order.
The proclamation also encourages landlords and tenants to communicate in good faith with one another, and to work together on the timing and terms of payment and repayment solutions.
Mayor Durkan to Host Southeast Seattle “Community Needs” Virtual Town Hall to Share COVID-19 Resources
Today, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan will host her fourth virtual town hall for residents of Southeast Seattle to hear about their specific needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from the Department of Transportation, Human Services Department, Office for Civil Rights, Office of Arts and Culture, Office of Economic Development, Office of Housing, Office of Labor Standards, Office of Sustainability and the Environment, and Seattle Public Utilities, will join Mayor Durkan for today’s virtual event.
A webinar will immediately follow the town hall, providing residents the opportunity to hear directly from City departments about essential services, resources, and other support available to residents and businesses.
In previous weeks Mayor Durkan has virtually visited the Central District, North Seattle, and West Seattle.
WHEN: Today, May 21, from 4:30–6:15 PM
WHERE: You can join the meeting from any PC or mobile device browser with this link.
King County Council Member Dunn Proposes New Plan for Property Tax Relief
On Wednesday, King County Council Member Reagan Dunn introduced legislation that would offer more tax relief for property taxpayers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. His proposed payment plan would give taxpayers the option to make smaller property tax payments over a six-month period, rather than make a lump sum payment on June 1.
“In our current crisis, a mere delay on property taxes isn’t enough to meet the great financial need of many King County residents,” Dunn said. “We should act now to help taxpayers who are doing everything they can to make ends meet, but still face a due-in-full property tax bill even as the economic fallout intensifies.”
On March 30, King County Executive Dow Constantine extended the due date for the first half of 2020 property taxes from April 30 to June 1, 2020. Since then, economic activity in the region has plummeted and unemployment rates have skyrocketed, greatly increasing financial hardships for many King County residents.
Dunn’s legislation would allow the County Treasurer to instate property tax payment plans for both first-half and second-half taxes for 2020 and 2021, extending up to six months past the due date. This would allow property tax bills to be split into five payments, with the first payment of first-half taxes due June 30, 2020, and the first payment of second-half taxes due November 30, 2020.
This legislation will be introduced at the full King County Council on May 26, 2020.
“Seattle Protects” Online Marketplace Connects Local Manufacturers and Those in Need of Face Coverings
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan today launched Seattle Protects, a new online marketplace to connect local manufacturers with organizations, businesses, nonprofits, community groups, and individuals in need of cloth face coverings. Seattle Protects is a new economic development and public health effort by the City to encourage local organizations in search of face coverings to purchase from Seattle-region midsize manufacturers and businesses that have pivoted to creating face coverings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 11, 2020, Public Health – Seattle & King County announced a new directive instructing King County residents to wear cloth face coverings in all indoor public settings and outdoor settings where physical distancing could be difficult, such as farmers markets. Residents must continue to practice good hygiene and continue physical distancing in addition to wearing cloth face coverings.
“At the City, we’ve heard from many business owners who are searching to buy both small and large quantities of face coverings. And we’ve also heard from our midsize manufacturers, who are the backbone of Seattle’s economy, that many of them are changing their output to better serve the needs of their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Durkan.
Seattle-region manufacturers interested in joining the Seattle Protects marketplace must fill out this application and must manufacture masks in accordance with vetted specifications to be considered. These specifications were developed by Kaiser Permanente, Unity Point Health, and Made @ Generate to help ensure all manufacturers amplified on the Seattle Protects marketplace meet health and safety best practices. Once a manufacturer’s application has been approved, they will be added to the Seattle Protects marketplace.
Organizations and businesses interested in purchasing face coverings for their workforce can explore all Seattle Protects manufacturers to find available face coverings that can be customized to meet the needs of their business. Seattle Protects vendors have committed to sell face coverings at a bulk price between $5.00 to $7.00 per face covering. Community members are also able to find manufacturers selling individual face coverings at market price. Many of the manufacturers participating in the Seattle Protects program are women and minority-owned businesses.
Seattle Protects is a collaboration between the Seattle Mayor’s Office, OED, and Seattle Information Technology (ITD). It was made in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles, which launched LA Protects to help Los Angeles residents procure necessary PPE.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that in communities like Seattle and King County, where there is significant community-based transmission, all individuals cover their noses and mouths with a cloth face covering to prevent inadvertently spreading the COVID-19 virus while interacting with others outside their homes when they are unable to maintain six feet of distance. Recognizing that access to face coverings can be a barrier, the City of Seattle is providing over 45,000 free cloth face coverings to community-based organizations that serve immigrants and refugees, older adults, people with disabilities, and people experiencing homelessness. The City will also distribute masks to food banks and meal providers including Seattle Public Schools and Meals on Wheels, and the City will reserve a selection of masks to distribute at the City’s own hygiene centers and shelters.
With community need for face coverings currently outweighing what local governments can provide alone, Durkan is calling on interested and able members of the public to donate cloth face coverings to help vulnerable communities stay safe and healthy. More information on how to donate cloth face coverings can be found on the Seattle Protects marketplace.
Members of the public with questions about the new countywide face covering directive should visit kingcounty.gov/masks. Please note that N95 masks or other medical-grade masks should not be purchased to comply with this directive; those materials must be reserved for health care workers and first responders on the frontlines. To donate N95 masks or other PPE, please fill out this survey or email the City of Seattle at PPEdonations@seattle.gov.
Food Lifeline to Distribute Free Food Boxes in South Seattle Friday
Food sourcing nonprofit Food Lifeline will distribute several thousand free emergency food boxes at two of its locations on May 15.
The boxes contain up to 25 lbs. of shelf-stable food, as well as fresh produce that has a longer shelf life. Distribution is confidential, and no paperwork will be involved. Individuals and families do not have to show proof of citizenship. Food Lifeline will only ask for residential zip code to track efforts.
The nonprofit will hold the first no-contact distribution from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. at its SODO Warehouse, located at 4140 East Marginal Way South, Seattle, WA, 98134.
The second distribution will take place from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. at Food Lifeline, located at 815 South 96th Street, Seattle, WA, 98108.
Read more here.
Washington State Potato Commission to Distribute Free Potatoes Thursday
The Washington State Potato Commission will distribute up to two bags of potatoes per family at the Tacoma Dome starting at 11 a.m. on May 14.
The 200,000 lbs. of potatoes were originally meant to be used as french fries, hash browns, and other restaurant menu items. The potatoes will be pre-washed and pre-bagged. The commission is asking that people consider giving a voluntary donation to support the effort, as it costs roughly 7 cents per pound to wash, bag, and transport potatoes.
Read more here.
QFC and Fred Meyer Announce Partnership with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Mariners for FREE COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing
On Tuesday, QFC and Fred Meyer announced a partnership with the City of Seattle and the Seattle Mariners for free COVID-19 drive-thru testing. The first testing will be at the T-Mobile Park in Seattle, May 13-14.
Testing Site Information:
● Dates: Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 14
● Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
● Location: T-Mobile Park Parking Garage at 1250 1st Ave S. Seattle – south entrance (Massachusetts and Occidental)
● Registration is required. Register at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting or call 1-888-852-2567 (select option 1, then option 3).
Seattle area residents MUST register at krogerhealth.com/covidtesting or call 1-888-852-2567 (select option 1, then option 3).
People seeking a test will use a virtual screening tool based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to see if they are eligible.
Those eligible will next select a testing location and appointment time. Then, registrants will receive an email confirmation with pre-appointment paperwork to complete. When a person arrives for their test, they should have their photo ID ready and should leave their window rolled up for check-in, until a health-care practitioner comes to the car to administer the test.
For the testing, patients remain in their cars throughout the process, which is completed in just a few minutes using self-administered test kits. The test uses self-administered nasal swabs, which are less painful and designed to increase safety. This onsite testing is supported with laboratory services provided by eTrueNorth, a contractor of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Test results are expected within approximately 48 hours. The Seattle testing site is estimated to have capacity for 250 vehicles per day.
King County Council Approves $60M for Continued COVID-19 Response
The King County Council on Tuesday approved $60 million in supplemental funding for continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation provides funding for a variety of programs, including: funding to respond to youth homelessness, relief for small businesses; expanded funding for the Community Development Block Grant; increased capacity for newly added isolation and quarantine facilities; support for the hard-hit tourism and creative sector (arts, culture, heritage, science and music) venues in order to attract visitors back to fill convention and events centers, hotels, restaurants; and more.
Further, the plan includes much funding to small chambers of commerce and community-based organizations whose primary mission is to provide marketing and technical assistance to small businesses in King County communities.
“This is a robust spending plan aimed at helping small businesses, organizations and our most vulnerable communities throughout the county weather the storm caused by COVID-19 and put us in a strong position to bounce back once the skies have cleared,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Council Budget Chair.
The Council approved $28.2 million in the first COVID-19 emergency funding measure in March, and another round of funding is expected later this month. King County expects all or most of the emergency spending to be reimbursed by state and federal funds.
City Allocates Nearly $4M in CARES Act Funds to Rental Assistance Programs
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan today announced the allocation of nearly $4 million in federal CARES Act Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV), Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG), and Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) funding to provide rent support. The allocation of funds is the latest in a series of measures by the City aimed at keeping Seattle residents impacted by COVID-19 from losing their housing. The City will provide equitable access to rent assistance resources through community-based organizations with strong connections to diverse communities.
The funds were approved by City Council on Monday as part of a broader proposal to accept $14.1 million from the federal CARES Act. $12.7 million were approved by the council and $4 million of those funds will provide rent assistance to families and individuals with unpaid rent due to COVID-19. The resources will be distributed four ways: $426,000 for housing assistance for people living with AIDS, $700,000 through the United Way Homebase Program, $1.45 million through the City’s Homelessness Prevention programs, and $1.4 million through affordable housing providers funded by the Seattle Office of Housing.
“We know that in order to meet the full scope of needs in our City and region, we need critical investments from the federal government, and I will continue to advocate for the resources we need to combat this virus and to rebuild,” Durkan said in a statement.
Demonstrating the great need for rent support in King County, United Way received nearly 7,000 applications for rent assistance in the first 48 hours after the Homebase program opened for applications for assistance with April rent. Over 70 percent of the applications received were from community members of color. The $700,000 is in addition to city investment of $1 million made in April. The first round of funds had the capacity to serve only 2,000 households. Given that many eligible people were not served, this new investment of funds will be used to help Seattle renters who applied for the first round.
City’s Stay Healthy Streets Will Become Permanent
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Thursday that at least 20 miles of Stay Healthy Streets will become permanent and the construction of bike infrastructure will be accelerated in 2020. In addition, 3 more miles of Stay Healthy Streets will be added in Rainier Valley and 1/3 mile of Beach Drive SW in Alki this weekend.
“We are in a marathon and not a sprint in our fight against COVID-19. As we assess how to make the changes that have kept us safe and healthy sustainable for the long term, we must ensure Seattle is rebuilding better than before. Safe and Healthy Streets are an important tool for families in our neighborhoods to get outside, get some exercise and enjoy the nice weather. Over the long term, these streets will become treasured assets in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Durkan.
Durkan says that Stay Healthy Streets provide an effective option for travel to essential services like grocery stores and small businesses open for pickup. The City hopes that as the weather gets warmer, these Stay Healthy Streets will allow people to recreate or exercise outdoors safely. The installation of bike infrastructure will also be accelerated throughout the rest of 2020 to provide more mobility options for residents as the City begins the process of reopening.
“Just like we must each adapt to a new normal going forward, so, too, must our city and the ways in which we get around. That is why we’re announcing a nimble, creative approach towards rapidly investing in a network of places for people walking and people biking of all ages and abilities and thinking differently about our traffic signals that make pedestrians a greater priority,” said Sam Zimbabwe, Seattle Department of Transportation Director.
The 3 additional miles of Stay Healthy Streets in Rainier Valley will be added to the existing Neighborhood Greenway from the Mount Baker neighborhood to Columbia City and Othello Neighborhood.
Major Seattle Parks to Begin Closing at 8 p.m.
Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) announced that starting Friday, May 8, major parks will close at 8 p.m. (instead of 11:30 p.m.) to further deter the BBQs, bonfires, parties, and gatherings that are reportedly taking place in parks.
The parks now closing at 8 p.m. are: Alki Beach, Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Discovery, Gas Works, Golden Gardens, Green Lake, Kubota Garden, Lincoln, Magnuson, Seward, Volunteer, Washington Park Arboretum, West Seattle Stadium, Myrtle Edwards, Judkins, and Woodland parks. Social Distancing Ambassadors will be out reminding people of this change, and the Seattle Police Department will be assisting in closing these parks at 8 p.m.
Most parking lots, motorized boat ramps, tennis courts, basketball courts, play areas, athletic fields (except for walking through), picnic tables/shelters, and other high touch amenities will remain closed at other popular parks.
SPR says its goal is to severely cut down on the crowding that its ambassadors are observing at city parks. Expecting an uptick in visitors this Mother’s Day weekend, they are reminding people that parks are open for running, walking, and biking but should not be used for picnics or gatherings.
King County Parks and Trails to Re-open May 8
King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Tuesday that County parks and trails will re-open on Friday, May 8, with some restrictions.
In addition to parks and regional and backcountry trails, parking lots and trailheads will be open, as well as fields, docks and boat launches, and the off-leash dog area at Marymoor Park.
Facilities such as restrooms, play areas, sports courts, and picnic shelters, will remain closed. The campground at Tolt-MacDonald Park remains closed, as does the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center, the Jim Ellis Preston Community Center, and the White Center Community Center.
Organized activities and programs, such as team sports and practices, race events, swimming lessons, volunteer work parties, and public gatherings remain suspended.
King County Parks’ decision follows Gov. Inslee’s recent announcement about the May 5 re-opening of state recreation lands. The County says it is taking a phased approach to re-opening, which will depend on visitors practicing safe distancing and following public health guidelines.
Gov. Jay Inslee Announces Creation of Three Recovery-Focused Advisory Teams
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee announced in a May 5 press conference the creation of three advisory groups to help guide the state through its efforts in recovering from the effects of the novel coronavirus.
These three groups will be comprised of community leaders, business leaders, and nonprofits, Inslee said, all of whom represent a broad demographic of Washingtonians. The groups are the Public Health and Healthcare Systems Group, the Safe Work and Economic Recovery Group, and the Social Services Group.
The Public Health and Healthcare Systems Group will be led by the Washington Department of Health Secretary John Wiesman, and will be involved in broadening the state’s testing capability. Helmed by state Commerce Secretary Dr. Lisa Brown, the Safe Work and Economic Recovery Group will be focusing on safely moving the state through its phased reopening effort. The last group, Social Services, will be headed by Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Cheryl Strange. It will be focused on meeting the increased public need for food, shelter, and access to healthcare. Inslee said the latter will have a heavy emphasis on equity.
Inslee also briefly addressed the projected state revenue reduction of $7 billion through 2023, with more than half that amount attributed to the current budget cycle. He said that he has not made a decision whether or not to order a special session of the state legislature, but said “it is a probability that there will need to be a special session before next January.”
Though the state has a $3 billion reserve to help Washington through this time, Inslee acknowledged that this projection is “an enormous hole.”
Durkan Extends Moratoriums on Residential, Nonprofit, and Small Business Evictions Until June 4
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an Executive Order Monday to extend the moratorium on residential, nonprofit, and small business evictions in the City of Seattle until June 4, 2020. The extension follows Proclamation 20-19.1 issued by the Governor, which extends the statewide ban to June 4, 2020.
“The moratorium on evictions is one critical tool we have at the City to keep people in their homes and keep businesses afloat. It was one of the first measures we took to bring relief to our City and why it is critical to maintain during this unprecedented time,” said Durkan.
The mayor first announced the moratorium on residential evictions on March 14, 2020 to keep Seattle families from losing their homes as a result of impacts from the pandemic. While the moratorium is in place in Seattle, property owners may not issue notices of termination or otherwise initiate an eviction action with the courts unless there is an imminent threat to the health and safety of the community. The order also prohibits late fees, and when paired with Governor Inslee’s April 16 proclamation, increases to rent and security deposits are prohibited through June 4. Tenants who receive any eviction notice during the moratorium should contact the Renting in Seattle hotline at 206‐684‐5700 or go online to submit a complaint.
The moratorium on nonprofit and small-business evictions impacts independently-owned businesses with 50 employees or fewer per establishment, state nonprofits, and 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Along with halting evictions, the order also prevents eligible small businesses and nonprofits from incurring late fees, interest, or other charges due to late payment during the moratorium.
Residential, nonprofit, and small business tenants who must appear in court should use the moratorium as a defense. If a tenant does not appear in court, the court may grant a continuance to allow the matter to be heard at a later date, after the moratorium has lifted.
Durkan Issues Executive Order to Extend City Closure Policies to Align With New ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ Order
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan issued an Executive Order Saturday, May 2 to extend deadlines for the City of Seattle’s policies on facility closures and City personnel policies to align with Governor Inslee’s statewide ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order, which is now extended until May 31. The Governor’s order was first announced on March 23 and bans all gatherings, closes all non-essential businesses unless employees can work from home, and requires all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are engaging in an essential activity.
“Governor Inslee has led our state in COVID-19 crisis by relying on science and data – extending the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order and creating a phased approach to reopening is critical to saving lives and preventing an exponential resurgence of the virus,” Durkan said in a statement.
The following closures will be extended through May 31:
- Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) community centers, playgrounds, athletic fields, sport courts, pools, environmental learning centers, and select parking lots serving the City’s largest parks, except for those centers offering childcare, shower services, and social distancing shelters.
- Seattle Public Library (SPL) locations, except those open 10 am – 6 pm for restroom use only
- Cedar River Watershed Education Center and Rattlesnake Ledge Recreation Area
- In-person access to all City departments’ public-facing customer service counters. Online and telephonic access will continue.
- All permitted City events, as announced on March 13, 2020, with the exception of farmers markets which will continue to be evaluated for permit renewals on a weekly basis
Changes to parking enforcement will also be extended:
- Enforcement of paid parking requirements on City streets
- Enforcement of select hourly parking time limits outside of no-parking or special zones
- Enforcement of parking restrictions at health care facilities
- Enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule
- Booting of vehicles with unpaid parking tickets
The City of Seattle also announced today the reopening of all four of the city’s municipal golf courses with limited hours: Jefferson Park Golf Course, West Seattle Golf Course, Jackson Golf Course, and Interbay Golf Course effective Tuesday, May 5. Courses will follow new operational guidelines and strict physical distancing practices which include: signage to indicate social distancing guidelines, minimized face-to-face interactions, removing high touch surfaces, increasing sanitization practices, converting sit-down food and beverage service to take-out only, eliminating equipment rentals, closing mini golf and using golf ambassadors to enforce social distancing. Seattle Parks and Recreation is also developing a pilot to provide hours when the public can run, bike, or walk within the golf courses.
Four major boat launches (Stan Sayres, Don Armeni, Magnuson, and Atlantic St) remain closed while the City further considers the guidelines and supports needed to create a safe environment for public access to these spaces. Hand-carry and smaller launches are open for use.
New Analysis Shows Pronounced Racial Inequities Among COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations and Deaths
Seattle & King County has released updated data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths by race and ethnicity. The updated data shows that in King County, COVID-19 is disproportionally impacting communities of color.
Hispanic/Latinx, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and Blacks had significantly higher rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as compared to Whites. The rates were also higher among American Indian/Alaskan Natives (though not statistically significant due to small population numbers) and slightly lower among Asian populations as compared to Whites.
While the total number of deaths from COVID-19 is highest among Whites, the rate of death per 100,000 for Hispanic/Latinx and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders is more than double that of Whites.
The updated analysis reinforces findings from other metropolitan areas and states across the United States. In King County, Public Health and community-facing task forces have been concerned since the beginning of this epidemic — that COVID-19 is exacerbating health inequities and is likely to take the biggest toll on communities already disadvantaged due to a long history of structural racism — ranging from housing policies to discrimination in health care, and more.
You can read the full report here.
Dunn Asks for Report on Effectiveness of King County COVID-19 Response
Metropolitan King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn on Wednesday introduced a motion asking that the University of Washington analyze the effectiveness of the COVID-19 response in King County. The report would look at how the actions of King County leaders and Public Health – Seattle & King County impacted the spread of the virus and compare health outcomes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may well be the worst viral outbreak many of us will see in our lifetimes,” Dunn said. “Given that this is new territory for all of us, we must arm ourselves with data on what worked and what didn’t in case we are ever faced with another crisis-level outbreak.”
Dunn’s motion asks that the University of Washington conduct this study in conjunction with Public Health – Seattle & King County, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the Gates Foundation, and other organizations directly involved in the COVID-19 response in King County.
If approved, the analysis would be due by June 30, 2021. Dunn’s motion will be heard by the King County Council Committee of the Whole on Tuesday, May 19.
Rainier Valley Development Fund Partners with JPMorgan to Provide Financial Relief to Small Businesses in the South End
To support small businesses in southeast Seattle financially impacted by COVID-19, the Rainier Valley Community Development Fund (RVCDF) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have partnered together to provide immediate financial relief in the form of grants to vulnerable small businesses within the South End community. Many of these businesses are either unlikely to qualify for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, or need a short-term bridge until SBA funds are available. The program’s funding comes from a $250,000 investment from JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Much of southeast Seattle’s small business economy has been devastated by the COVID-19 crisis. Its more than 1000 businesses aren’t alone. Research indicates that half of small businesses only have a large enough cash buffer to keep operating for 27 days.
Targeting southeast Seattle’s micro-economy, the grants are intended to support existing businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis to address basic operational needs, rather than equipment purchases or expansion plans. Those needs may include:
- Rent, utilities and business-related taxes
- Supplies and inventory
- Working capital
- Business planning and consulting
More information and application details can be found here.
Seattle Launches Mobile Assessment Teams to Test City’s Most Vulnerable to COVID-19
Building on its first responder testing facility, administered by first responders, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins announced today that the City has created and deployed two Mobile Assessment Teams to test the city’s most vulnerable, primarily focusing on senior and long-term care establishments at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis. Recently, the City has also added capacity at the first responder testing site to test frontline city employees and workers from other high-risk facilities, including shelters for people experiencing homelessness.
“In Washington and across the country, we know that long-term care facilities have been at the epicenter of COVID-19 with tens of thousands of cases of residents and workers,” said Durkan in a statement. “Testing our residents and workers most susceptible to COVID-19 exposure is an important step to help slow the virus that has left its devastating mark on seniors and the most vulnerable around the world.”
As recent reports have highlighted, the virus has disproportionately impacted long-term care facilities, which include skilled nursing facilities, adult family homes, and assisted living facilities. The Mobile Assessment Teams, which began operating on April 14, allow the City to send Seattle Fire Department (SFD) resources into these facilities where there are known COVID-19 cases to test the staff and patients.
Each Mobile Assessment Team is comprised of three SFD paramedics or EMTs. The department currently has a pool of approximately 20 personnel to utilize for testing. The facilities tested are determined in consultation with Public Health – Seattle & King County (PHSKC). Each team has the ability to test up to 120 individuals per day.
Long-term care facilities have experienced the most significant proportion of COVID-19 cases. In Seattle, even with the limited testing resources available, nearly 15% of all long-term care facilities have reported active COVID-19 cases. Thus far, the teams have been deployed to three long-term care facilities, testing more than 500 individuals. Seattle Fire Department is scheduled to deploy to at least six new locations soon, and the Mobile Assessment Teams will evaluate the expansion of testing to serve the critical testing needs of high-risk populations. Access to testing kits remains the biggest challenge to tracing the level of COVID-19 in the community.
Seattle Launches #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz Map With Regional Partner Cities
On Tuesday, The City of Seattle launched its new #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map, which helps residents find small businesses providing takeout or delivery in their neighborhood. The map allows users to search for open small businesses in their neighborhood and navigate directly to a business’s website or third-party delivery service page. After launching the Seattle-specific map in late March, municipalities from across the region reached out to Seattle Information Technology and asked to participate. To date, approximately 20 cities and counties are participating in the #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map, and each municipality is working with its local economic development organizations to ensure restaurants are added to the map.
The #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map has received nearly 250,000 views, and averages about 2,200 visits per day. There are currently 2,600 small businesses in the map spread across King County, Pierce County and Snohomish County. The map began as part of the City’s #SupportSeattleSmallBiz campaign, which asks residents to post pictures and videos from their favorite Seattle restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries that are doing delivery, to-go, and drive-through with the #SupportSeattleSmallBiz hashtag and to tag @SeattleEconomy.
To use the map, residents can enter their location or drop a pin and find all the available restaurants near them. Once they select their restaurant, they can place a takeout or delivery order directly through the app or can receive directions to the restaurant. The map also connects users directly to third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Caviar to easily patronize a restaurant. Seattle Information Technology (ITD) built the map, and staff from municipalities across the Puget Sound partnered with community leaders and small business owners to populate the map with businesses. Users can access the map here: Maps.seattle.gov/PugetSound/SupportSmallBiz.
Restaurant, bar, café, and brewery owners can enter their information into a brief survey to see their business appear on the public-facing map within minutes. To help ensure quality and consistent data, ITD has created an internal map and survey that business owners can use to enter their information. If you are a business owner and want to add yourself to the map, please email at email@example.com for instructions.
The necessary statewide ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order has caused restaurants to rely solely on delivery and takeout services for revenue, and many of these restaurants rely on third-party platforms to conduct takeout and delivery for them. Each service agreement between restaurants and third-party companies varies, but some include commissions that are 30% or more of the purchase price. To help support restaurants, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan recently announced a 15 percent commission cap on third-party delivery services. This will help ensure that delivery and takeout remain viable options and don’t cause increased financial hardship.
State Lifts Restrictions on Some Outdoor Recreational Activities
Starting on May 5, Washingtonians will be able to take part in some outdoor recreation activities on state lands.
Joined by several heads of the state’s public lands and recreation departments, at an April 27 press conference, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that day use of state parks, state lands used for hunting and fishing, and golfing areas will partially reopen on May 5.
Any additional relaxing of the current measures will depend on continued improvement in the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19, which relies on people continuing to socially distance, even outdoors, Inslee said. For instance, he said, if people from different households are gathered together on a blanket outdoors, that is not good social distancing. People should only be close to those who live in their households. For this reason, all camping activities are still prohibited, and golfers should limit their groups to two people. While boating will reopen, people should not go boating with people who live outside their households.
Inslee also said that these eased restrictions do not prohibit local and tribal governments from continuing to restrict these outdoor activities on their lands.
As with previous decisions made to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus across the state, Inslee said this decision was made based on the current data, which currently shows a leveling off of infections and deaths.
Though he did not commit to extending the current stay home order, which expires on May 4, Inslee pointed to a model that showed a dramatic increase in infection, should the state lift all restrictions on movement and gatherings.
Washington to Distribute Funds From Federal Stimulus Package
Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday that nearly $300 million will be awarded from the state’s federal stimulus funding to local governments that did not receive direct distributions under the CARES Act.
“Cities and counties are on the front line of fighting this pandemic, especially our public health jurisdictions,” Inslee said. “This funding will help our local partners across Washington meet the needs of their communities as we work together to defeat the virus.”
Funds will be provided to cities and counties with populations under 500,000 that were ineligible to receive direct funding under the CARES Act. Specific allocations will be released in the coming days. Each county will receive a minimum distribution of $250,000 and each city will receive a minimum distribution of $25,000 from the state.
Under state law, the Legislature must be notified about the awards and be given 10 days to respond before the distributions are made. During that time, the state will work with local governments to get the agreements in place so they can access the money as soon as possible.
Dunn Proposes King County Hiring Freeze
On Monday, King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn introduced an ordinance that, if approved by the King County Council, would enact a hiring freeze for all nonessential King County personnel until the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
“King County government is downstream from the full economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we must start exercising frugality in preparation for the financial shock that will come in our next budget cycle,” Dunn said. “Many businesses and organizations are having to make similar spending cuts — and King County is no exception.”
According to King County’s Office of Performance, Strategy, and Budget, the reduction in economic activity due to COVID-19 has already dramatically affected County revenue. The full impact to the County’s budget remains uncertain but will be significant. The county’s single biggest expense is the salary and benefit costs associated with employees.
The hiring freeze would not include medical professionals, Public Health employees, King County Sheriff’s Office positions, corrections officers in the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, positions that are fully grant funded, or any temporary workers needed to provide services related to the COVID-19 response.
Dunn’s hiring freeze ordinance will be referred to the Committee of the Whole where it will be considered by May 19, 2020.
State to Allow Some Construction Projects to Restart
Based on current data, the state will move ahead in restarting some construction, provided specified construction sites practice safe social distancing guidelines and workers wear personal protective equipment.
Joined by Washington Building Trades Executive Secretary Mark Riker and Building Industry Association of Washington Executive Vice President Greg Lane, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee made the announcement at a press conference on April 24.
Inslee said any projects going forward require six-foot distancing and personal protective equipment, as well as measures to disinfect equipment to protect workers from contracting the novel coronavirus and developing COVID-19.
Inslee said that as soon as he signs the order, contractors may start work for both private clients and the state. He acknowledged that some construction projects would be delayed, due to the distancing measures, but said that the state is thinking of this more from a health perspective than an economic one.
Inslee cautioned that this does not mean a full reopening of the state’s economy, and reiterated that turning on the state’s economy again will be more like a dial than a light switch.
“This is going to be an intelligent, incremental process,” Inslee said.
Inslee said he has not made any final decisions on restarting elective surgery or outdoor recreation, and that he will likely make an announcement regarding those activities in the next few days. He said he’s concerned about the lack of personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers, and iterated his call to President Donald Trump to order emergency production of this equipment.
“We need to continue to ramp up the manufacturing,” he said.
Rainier Beach Neighborcare Providing COVID-19 Testing
Neighborcare Health is now providing coronavirus testing and evaluation at tents in the parking lot of their Rainier Beach clinic (9245 Rainier Ave S). People do not have to be current Neighborcare Health patients, nor do they have to have a car. But they will need to make a phone appointment with one of the clinic’s medical providers first.
If a caller is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, they will most likely be offered a test, according to a clinic spokesperson. In addition to tests, the clinic will continue providing care, mostly by phone but limited in-person, for many routine and immediate health care needs, including monitoring chronic conditions, support for stress, anxiety and worry, and emergency dental care. It will also offer interpretation services, insurance enrollment assistance, and a sliding fee discount. Insurance is not required to take advantage of the clinic’s services, and no one will be denied services because of an inability to pay.
South and Southwest Seattle clinics currently open are in Columbia City, Rainier Beach, and High Point in West Seattle. For more information call 206-218-3754 or visit www.neighborcare.org.
Durkan Kicks Off Virtual Town Hall Series
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan will begin hosting a weekly series of virtual town halls on Thursday to connect with residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The town hall’s will see Durkan join with representatives from the Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Economic Development, Office of Labor Standards, Human Services Department, Office of Housing, Office of Sustainability & Environment, Seattle Public Utilities, and Seattle City Light.
The mayor’s office says a webinar will be made available following the town hall to give community members an opportunity to work with city departments learning about essential services, resources, and other support for residents and businesses. Tonight’s town hall will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and can be joined at this link.
King County Unveils Remote Protection Order Filing in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic
King County residents who need emergency protection against a domestic abuser no longer have to come to the county courthouse. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) announced Wednesday that anyone needing a protection order can file one remotely, following the steps outlined under this link.
KCPAO says it moved up the launch date of its remote filing to help people during the coronavirus pandemic. The online process is in response to a recent surge in domestic violence cases. These cases have made up more than a quarter of all cases handled by KCPAO between March 1 and April 17.
“Stay home, stay safe, stay healthy is good advice for most of us, but for some members of our community home is not a safe place,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a statement. “Domestic violence abusers often use isolation as a weapon, to keep their victims away from help. We want you to know that help is still available and that no one should have to endure domestic violence during this time.”
The county has moved to reduce the average daily jail population by more than 200 in the past several weeks by releasing some people guilty of non-violent offenses. But domestic violence suspects and others suspected of violent acts are not being considered for less-restrictive alternatives, according to KCPAO.
Two Formerly Incarcerated People Test Positive for COVID-19, the First Confirmed Cases at King County Correctional Facilities
Two formerly incarcerated people have tested positive for COVID-19, according to The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention (DAJD). The two confirmed cases are the first in King County correctional facilities.
The Health and Medical Area Command, operated by Public Health — Seattle & King County, says it is working to locate both people and connect them with all available resources and, if needed, safe places to quarantine.
Both of the formerly incarcerated people were booked at the King County Correctional Facility in downtown Seattle and were transferred to the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent where they were placed in droplet precaution, a standard practice recommended by the CDC to prevent the spread of infectious diseases through fluids by coughing and sneezing.
The first person was booked for driving under the influence at about 1 a.m. Friday and was released by the court at about 3 p.m. Saturday. The second person was booked for driving under the influence at about 3 a.m. Saturday and was released by the court at about 7 p.m. Monday.
DAJD says it has completed 62 tests for adults since the start of the pandemic. The department has tested one youth at the Children and Family Justice Center in Seattle where no residents have tested positive.
DAJD has decreased its incarcerated population by about 30 percent since mid-March. There are about 1,300 adults in custody today, down from 1,899 on March 13. The population at the Children and Family Justice Center is 33, down from 43, which is low enough to provide each youth with their own dorm where staff can provide individualized care.
The department updates a dashboard each weekday that shows test results, daily populations, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Adults who are considered most vulnerable to severe complications to COVID-19 — 60 and older with underlying health conditions — are cared for at a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center.
Democrats and Republicans Appear to Reach Deal on $500 Billion Aid Package
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says an agreement has been reached on key portions of a nearly $500 billion coronavirus aid package for small businesses, as well as additional help for hospitals and virus testing. Most of the funding, more than $300 billion, would go to boost a small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week, as reported by a King-5 reporter.
Schumer said post-midnight talks among Democratic and Republican leaders, along with Trump administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, produced a breakthrough agreement on the package.
He said he hoped the package could be voted on Tuesday afternoon in the Senate.
Washington Unemployment Site Remains Overwhelmed, Officials Say “Keep Trying”
With a record number of people applying for unemployment benefits on Sunday after its site underwent upgrades, Washington’s Employment Security Department issued the following tips for those trying to file.
If customers are having difficulty applying or filing weekly claims, here are a few things to remember:
- You don’t have to apply on Sunday — it is not first come, first served and there is no risk to funds running out. You can apply anytime.
- Payments are retroactive to your eligibility date. This means that, once you have successfully applied and backdated your start date, your first payment will be for all weeks for which you are eligible.
- Weekly claims can be filed Sunday through Saturday every week.
- E-services is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The busiest times tend to be in the morning. We recommend trying during off hours.
- If you are having difficulty filing your application, please visit our help page.
SPS to Give Students Either an “A” or “Incomplete”
High school students at Seattle Public Schools will get an “A” or an “Incomplete” on their report cards, as students continue to learn remotely through the end of the school year.
On Monday, the school board approved the temporary grading policy referred to as “A or Incomplete.” The policy will be used by high schools as students’ final grades are determined for the Spring 2020 semester.
Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau said the change was necessary because of the “unique challenges” presented by the mid-March closure of school buildings for the remainder of the school year to slow the area spread of the novel coronavirus. She added that the policy was created to take into account the inequities, such as lack of access to the internet, that many students face at home.
According to the district, the school board also considered “credit” or “no credit;” using regular letter grades; allowing the students to work to improve their current grade; or leaving the final grading up to schools and teachers.
Record Number of Washingtonians Apply For Unemployment Benefits
(From KING-5) The Washington State Employment Security Department (WASD) received more applications for benefits on Sunday, than they did all of last week, which was already the biggest week on record, according to WASD.
More than 182,000 logged in to apply for unemployment benefits, including expanded, extended and traditional benefits. For comparison, the 182,000 applications in a week was already seven times the peak week for the 2008/2009 recession, according to the agency.
On Saturday, the system was taken down to allow for the expansion of unemployment benefits enabled by the federal CARES Act. The system went back online on Sunday, but the volume caused problems for people trying to log in. The Employment Security Department reported volumes on Sunday of up to 500,000 per hour.
Trump to Suspend Immigration
President Donald Trump announced that he will be signing an executive order to temporarily stop immigration into the United States in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.
In a Tweet, the President said: “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!”
In recent weeks the president has referred to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as “the invisible enemy.”
It is not entirely clear what prompted this decision at this time or what effect the decision will have on U.S. border operations and border crossings.
The decision also does not appear yet to address those who hold green cards.
There was no mention of when the order will be signed or how long it will remain in effect.
Early Data Estimates Almost 3 Percent Climb in State’s Uninsured Rate
Early data from the Office of Financial Management’s Forecasting and Research Division estimates an almost 3 percent climb in the state’s uninsured rate for the three-week period of March 15 to April 4.
The report bases its findings on unemployment numbers. In the three weeks it focuses on, more than half a million Washingtonians lost their jobs. The report estimates the number of uninsured to have jumped from a little more than 182,000 people to more than 704,000 over the three weeks. The report states that health coverage of the newly unemployed was disproportionately affected, climbing from a little more than 10 percent to almost 51 percent. Employment-based health insurance coverage rate dropped sharply from about 53 percent to a little more than 10 percent.
The report says the estimated numbers may change, based on updated data.
South Seattle Safeway Employee Dies from COVID-19
“Sonny” Quitlong, a 70-year-old worker at a Safeway on Rainier Avenue South, has died from COVID-19. He is the first grocery store worker in the state to die from the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
A Safeway spokesperson released a statement, saying Quitlong was “a well-respected and beloved associate.” According to the statement, Quitlong’s last day of work was March 2.
Quitlong joins at least 30 other grocery store employees who have died of the virus nationwide, according to the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union.
City Announces New Guidelines, Allow Parks to Remain Open
The City of Seattle announced additional steps taken and guidelines for safe use of City parks, greenways and local farmers markets. The City will allow major parks to remain open throughout the weekend but will be requiring residents to keep moving and not play sports, picnic or barbecue, with additional new guidelines at Green Lake and Seward Park. The City will also open two neighborhood greenways in West Seattle and the Central District to allow safe exercise opportunities free of cars so residents can bike or walk this weekend. Parking lots at our larger parks will remain closed.
“The Governor’s order is Stay Home — not stay out. The social distancing necessary to keep us healthy will mean a new normal for Seattle’s parks, farmers markets, and public amenities. Stay home, but if you need to exercise or go to get groceries at the farmers market, please no crowds, no gatherings, and keep it moving,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We know that this virus isn’t leaving our community for a long time, but I am hopeful that Seattle can adapt. I’m asking every Seattle resident: think of the nurses and health care workers on the front lines before you leave the house.”
Keep it Moving Guidance:
- Stay Home. If you need to leave the house, visit your neighborhood park.
- Keep it Moving. Keep walking, running, rolling or biking. That means no picnics, no BBQs, no sports, no gatherings at our parks.
- Visit at Off Peak. Visit parks, greenways and farmers markets at off peak hours.
- Crowded Spaces will mean Closed Spaces. If you see a crowd, go somewhere else. Seattle Parks staff will be monitoring in real time and is prepared to close parks if there are too many gatherings or too many people.
While individuals may continue to visit their neighborhood parks, Seattle Parks and Recreation has implemented the following steps ahead of the weekend at the largest parks:
- Deploying 60 new Social Distancing Ambassadors. Parks Ambassadors began last weekend and will be at all major parks to remind people to social distance and not gather. These ambassadors will take hourly data on usage and parks will be closed if usage is too high.
- Installation of hundreds of new signs reminding the public of Social Distancing and Keep It Moving expectations You can view signs here and here.
- Closure of Sports Fields. All basketball courts, athletic fields, and tennis courts will continue to be closed for use.
- New Reporting for Lack of Social Distancing: The public can report any lack of social distancing to Seattle Parks and Recreation through social media, by calling (206) 684-4075, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
King County Metro Further Reducing Service
As the region continues to respond to COVID-19, King County Metro announced it would reduce weekend bus service beginning Saturday April 18, and further reduce weekday bus service starting Monday, April 20. Water Taxi and First Hill Streetcar will continue to operate on previously reduced schedules.
This revised Reduced Schedule provides a core network of public transportation services to maintain access to critical supplies, services, and worksites across the region. Details about weekend changes will be posted online Thursday; canceled trip details and weekday service will be revised and updated online Saturday.
Overall, Metro will operate with approximately 42% fewer buses, 36% fewer transit operators, and 27% fewer service trips than typical weekday service. Weekend trips will be reduced by 15% on Saturdays and 4% on Sundays.
“To reserve transit for those who need it most, we’re calling on riders to travel only if absolutely necessary and to wear a face covering to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” said King County Metro General Manager Rob Gannon.
The upcoming April 18 Reduced Schedule is among the latest steps in Metro’s response to COVID-19. Previous reductions in service took place March 23 and April 6. The transit authority says those reductions helped maintain financial sustainability amid ridership that has now dropped by about 70% compared to a year ago.
Executive Pacific Hotel Opening 100 Rooms for Health Care Workers
Mayor Jenny Durkan announced today that the City of Seattle is making up to 100 rooms at the Executive Pacific Hotel available for health care workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rooms are available for quarantine for health care workers to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among members of their household and their loved ones. To prevent further strain on the region’s hospitals, the rooms are also available for asymptomatic COVID-19 positive health care workers who must be in isolation but who don’t require hospitalization.
As of April 16, 11 health care workers have stayed at the Executive Pacific Hotel, and 11 total Seattle Police Department (SPD) and Seattle Fire Department (SFD) personnel have stayed at this hotel. SFD and SPD are providing weekly updates on the impact COVID-19 is having on personnel. Those updates can be found at https://fireline.seattle.gov/ and https://spdblotter.seattle.gov/.
Pride Events Shifting to Virtual Forums
Organizers of Seattle’s largest LGBTQIA+ Pride events announced the collective decision Thursday to shift the annual large-group gatherings in June (including Seattle Pride Parade, PrideFest at Seattle Center, TransPride, PrideFest Capitol Hill and Seattle Pride in the Park) to a series of virtual events. Organizers with Seattle PrideFest, Seattle Pride, and the Gender Justice League say the decision was made out of an abundance of caution — and concern for the community’s health — after conferring with local public health officials and the City of Seattle.
In addition to the virtual events in June (to be announced in early May), the three organizations are working together with other community groups to plan in-person Pride events to be held in late summer, when it is potentially safer to resume community festivals. They plan to announce additional details in the coming months.
Early Models Suggest Social Distancing Working, but Washington is Nowhere Close to Getting Back to Normal
At a press conference today, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee used several predictive models to demonstrate that social distancing measures are working, and that the state is seeing a plateau, rather than a rise in cases. He said that lifting the stay-home order currently in place in the state would require bending the curve of infection down even further, as well as enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel and tests for those who need them.
Inslee said he does not plan to lift the stay-home order before May 4, and suggested the possibility of another extension, depending on how the rest of the month shakes out. He made it clear that when the state eventually does come out from under the current stay-home order, it will do so in phases, just as it did going into the order.
Inslee said the biggest hurdle is getting enough test kits together. Right now, he said, Washington State is doing about 4,500 tests per day, but needs to be doing 13,000 tests per day. He also said the state is “searching the globe” for the materials to put the kits together, materials that involve a medium, swabs, vials and more, and said there are about 1 million swabs headed to the state.
Inslee also mentioned some “cutting-edge” research and clinical trials at the Gates Foundation, with regards to test kits, but didn’t elaborate. In March, the Gates Foundation announced test-at-home.
80 Million Americans Receive Stimulus Payments
Seattleites joined millions of others across the country who woke up to a welcome surprise in their bank accounts. As of Wednesday, April 15, about 80 million Americans will have received payments, the federal government says.
People received varying amounts depending on their adjusted incomes, however, $1200 was the maximum payment any one individual was eligible for under the coronavirus relief bill Congress passed three weeks ago.
To help people monitor the status of their payments, the IRS has created an online portal where people can track those payments and update their bank account info online.
Debt collectors will not be able to take federal stimulus checks under a proclamation signed by Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday.
The proclamation suspends statutes that permit collection of consumer debt judgments, including bank account and wage garnishments and waives accrual of post-judgment interest on consumer debt judgments during the period of the order.
50 New Tiny Houses Open to Shelter People Vulnerable to Covid-19
In response to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s Proclamation of Civil Emergency in the fight against COVID-19, the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) announced that it is opening a new tiny house village located at 612 22nd Ave (22nd & E. Cherry) in the Central Area on land owned by The Christ Spirit Church. In addition, LIHI is doubling the size of Lake Union Village (LUV) located at 800 Aloha St. in South Lake Union. A total of 50 new tiny houses will shelter up to 60 people experiencing homelessness including singles, couples and people with pets.
The new village, T.C. Spirit Village, and the expansion at LUV opens on Wednesday, April 15, and provides shelter, safety, hygiene, food, and on-site case management for vulnerable individuals at risk of exposure to the Coronavirus. T.C. Spirit Village will receive referrals of Native Americans, Alaskan Natives and African Americans who are underserved and over-represented in the homeless population. LUV provides shelter for homeless individuals including those living with mental illness, alcoholism and/or chemical dependency. Lifelong provides behavioral health services at LUV.
T.C. Spirit Village includes 28 tiny houses; a community kitchen, a hygiene building with restrooms, showers, and laundry, staff and counseling offices, and a security pavilion. There is 24/7 staffing and case management on-site to help up to 32 residents obtain housing, employment, health care, education, and other services. Members of The Christ Spirit Church will provide donations, services, food and other support. The village is receiving operational support from the Seattle Human Services Department.
Washington Lost An Estimated 11,100 Jobs in March
According to the Employment Security Department, Washington State lost an estimated 11,100 jobs in March.
The state’s labor force in March was 3,889,700, a decrease of 72,800 people from the previous month. The labor force is the total number of people who are employed and unemployed over the age of 16.
City of Seattle Expands Grocery Voucher Program
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan today launched the City of Seattle’s expanded grocery voucher program, which will provide $800 grocery vouchers to 1,000 working people who have recently lost their job or experienced a significant reduction in hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, 21 Seattle Center non-profit tenants will receive a grant to mitigate the continued impacts of COVID-19 on Seattle’s artists and cultural organizations. These efforts are possible due to a $1 million donation from Oak View Group (OVG) and NHL Seattle leadership, staff, and partners, including $200,000 for artists and cultural organizations and $800,000 to United Way of King County’s Community Relief Fund, to support the City’s continued efforts to expand access to healthy, affordable food, and combat the effects COVID-19 has on workers.
“We know that working people in Seattle are struggling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our region is transitioning from having one of the lowest unemployment rates anywhere, to seeing unemployment claims soar statewide,” said Durkan.
$800,000 of the OVG and NHL Seattle donation will go to the United Way of King County to support the Office of Sustainability and Environment’s (OSE) expanded grocery voucher program. The expanded program will initially provide 1,000 workers impacted by COVID-19 with vouchers that can immediately be used at any Washington state Safeway store to purchase food and household goods, not including tobacco, alcohol, lottery tickets, and fuel. The City will continue to fundraise with the goal of providing an additional 1,000 recently displaced workers these grocery vouchers. If you or your organization is interested in donating to the grocery voucher program, contact Office of Sustainability and Environment director Jessica Finn Coven at Jessica.FinnCoven@seattle.gov.
United Way of King County is partnering with community-based organizations to distribute the vouchers, with a focus on recently displaced workers who are unable to access other forms of government aid due to structural or institutional barriers, like language barriers, fear of deportation, or experiencing gender-based violence. Partner organizations include: Asian Counseling and Referral Services, Ingersoll Gender Center, Providence Regina House, Refugee Women’s Alliance, and Villa Comunitaria.
City Has Now Opened 28 Classrooms of Emergency Child Care
Today the City announced it has opened 28 classrooms of Emergency Child Care to offer more than 230 spaces for children of essential workers. The Emergency Child Care program offers no-cost childcare to families of healthcare professionals, first responders, and pharmacy and grocery workers who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
“As Seattle sees the results of effective social distancing, we must thank and protect the front-line workers who are allowing the majority of our region to stay home and stay healthy,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The City of Seattle launched its Emergency Child Care (ECC) program on March 30 following the closing of the regional schools. As of today, 17 childcare sites are open to the families of these essential workers, with 28 classrooms and seats for 233 children.
Workers in the healthcare, first responder, pharmacy, and grocery sectors are invited to apply for the program on the Department of Education and Early Learning website. DEEL has also partnered with various employers and partner networks representing these essential sectors to identify families in need of care.
Venus Pacheco is one of the front-line grocery workers who is able to continue working thanks to the City’s Emergency Child Care. “This was a blessing for me. It’s one less thing I have to stress about in life,” said Venus. “Jessica at Launch and her team are simply amazing. They supply breakfast, lunch and snacks while taking temperatures and washing hands throughout the day.” You can read more about Venus Pacheco’s story here.
If you are in one of the qualifying essential sectors and did not receive an email into the program from your employer, you can apply for participation online. DEEL staff will respond to your request within 24 hours and match you with the licensed childcare provider closest to your area with open slots.
All child care providers in the Emergency Child Care program are operating under new guidelines from Public Health—Seattle & King County for child care administrators operating during COVID-19. These health and safety guidelines emphasize smaller group sizes for social distancing, daily health screenings, and greater frequency of cleaning and sanitizing, among other health and safety measures.
The City of Seattle has partnered with community based Seattle Preschool Program providers to stand up our 233 seats of childcare for the kids of essential workers. The program is currently open to children 3–12 years old who are toilet trained. The largest SPP provider, Seattle Public Schools, has opted to provide alternative learning arrangements for its preschool classrooms rather than open 5 schools with 10 classrooms at each location.
The City will continue evaluating if additional resources can be committed to expand beyond these 233 seats. The City is also partnering with Child Care Resources and other community organizations to find care for other families in need. If you need care for your infant or toddler or care outside city limits, or if you are not employed in one of the essential sectors listed above, please contact Child Care Resources at 206-329-5544.
Third Place Books Launches Books to Students Fund
Third Place Books has launched a new initiative – the Books to Students Fund – to help directly supply reading materials to students in the Seattle, Shoreline, and Northshore School districts.
With schools and libraries closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the retailer hopes to raise at least $10,000 to distribute books to local kids, in partnership with Seattle Public Schools, the Shoreline School District, the Northshore School District, and the nonprofits Reading Partners, and Page Ahead
“For us, it is so important to continue investing in our community—especially our Seattle students—at a time when we can’t provide a physical Third Place for people,” said Niki Marion, Children’s Outreach Manager at Third Place Books, via a press release. “Books are such crucial resources for education and entertainment, and we want to make sure all students in our community have access to both while schools, libraries, and bookstores are closed.”
Community members who want to support the Books to Students fund can contribute online at www.thirdplacebooks.com/books-students-fund. Donations will go directly toward purchasing books for Seattle students.
City Announces First 250 Grantees of Small Business Stabilization Fund
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced the initial 250 grantees of the City’s $2.5 million Small Business Stabilization Fund. The fund provides $10,000 grants to small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. Nearly 9,000 small businesses applied for the first round of the City’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, demonstrating that the need goes far beyond what the City can provide without further support from the private sector, philanthropic partners and economic relief from the federal government. With loans and grants available at the state and federal level, OED has also created a comprehensive resource page for workers and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and is providing technical assistance to support our small businesses.
On April 1, Mayor Durkan signed into law her legislation to ensure the City of Seattle can accept donations, including for initiatives like supporting small businesses through stabilization funding and for families via food vouchers.
Comcast has donated $50,000 to address the urgent need for future rounds of the Stabilization Fund. This investment will help ensure the Office of Economic Development (OED) can continue providing direct capital assistance to small business owners struggling to support their employees and stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interested individuals and organizations can donate to the Stabilization Fund by emailing email@example.com.
Durkan Closes 15 Largest Parks and Beaches and Urges People to Stay Home
Because of continued gatherings in major parks and crowded public places, the City of Seattle announced today the full closure of major regional parks this weekend where social distancing guidelines have not been followed by patrons. Seattle is joining major cities like Austin and Los Angeles across the country in closing major parks for the weekend. The change is effective Friday, April 10 at 11pm and will parks reopen on Monday, April 12 at 4:30 am. Data shows that social distancing measures are effectively reducing the transmission rate, but any easing of those measures could lead to a resurgence in transmission. Moreover, all city departments are having to adjust to the impacts that COVID-19 has had on employees, their families and the city workforce.
“These are the beautiful weather days we crave all winter, but we are living in unprecedented times and the Governor’s order isn’t stay out — it’s stay home. Seattle’s frontline medical workers, vulnerable residents, and displaced workers need you to stay home,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “While Seattle is expecting near perfect weather, friends and families should not have family or friend outings, picnics or gatherings in parks. Stay home unless you need to go to an essential job or business. If you need to take a walk in your neighborhood, be smart and don’t help create a crowded place.”
While neighborhood parks will remain open, the city will consider closing them or making temporary closures longer term if visitors can’t follow safety guidelines. Though it has closed parks and lots at the largest regional parks, the City says it continues to see significant gatherings and disregard for social distancing.
In South Seattle, Seward Park and Kubota Garden will be close Friday, April 11 at 11pm and will re-open Monday, April 12 at 4:30am. The City’s other destination parks Green Lake, Lincoln, Golden Gardens, Magnuson Park, Gas Works, Alki Beach, and Discovery, as well as Cal Anderson, Carkeek, Woodland Park, Volunteer Park, West Seattle Stadium, and the Washington Park Arboretum will also close on Friday. Stan Sayres, Magnuson, Don Armeni, and Atlantic St boat launches are also closed. Trails at Lake Washington Boulevard will remain open, but group gatherings will be prohibited. Rattlesnake Lake Recreation Area and Rattlesnake Ledge Trail will remain closed. Next week, the City will is evaluating and implementing a park by park plan to ensure residents can safely utilize larger regional parks when they reopen.
“The Police Department is asking community members to continue to follow the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Seattle has worked so hard to flatten the COVID curve in our region, now is not the time for our community to become complacent,” said Chief Carmen Best.
King County parks, including Skyway Park, have been closed since March 25.
City of Seattle Seeking Continued Donations of PPE Supplies to First Responders and Frontline Workers
Following the announcement that the City of Seattle would lead a coordinated effort to collect personal protective equipment for frontline workers, today Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced plans to distribute 60,000 masks, eyewear, and gloves to community partners working on the frontline the public health crisis providing COVID-19 testing to at-risk populations, working at long-term care facilities, and at shelters for the individuals experiencing homelessness.
“Nationwide, there is a huge need for gowns, gloves and masks. Our Seattle community has come together like never before to provide urgently needed, life-saving protective gear to our heroes on the frontlines. These workers are helping to sustain our most vulnerable residents during this unprecedented public health emergency,” said Durkan.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) inventory has been in critically short supply for frontline employees throughout the region. Public Health — Seattle & King County has partnered with the Washington State Department of Health and State Office of Emergency Management to ensure the distribution PPE based on three priorities: hospitals with the highest rate of COVID-19 cases; first responders; and long-term care and nursing facilities – the latter of which receives a small percent of the allotment. You can view the state data on PPE.
Since the March 20, the City has received more than items from more than 100 individuals and community groups including:
- 49,700 masks;
- 14,500 Eyewear and face shields; and
- 58,100 Gloves.
For residents who would like to donate unopened, unused PPE items please complete the following survey form. City employees will follow up with donors to determine the best route for drop-off or pick-up of donations. The City is partnering with Goodwill Industries in King County to pick up donations. All supplies collected are relocated to a centralized facility.. For residents who have opened, but unused PPE items, the City is partnering with the Seattle Mask Brigade to pick up these items. For additional questions about the City’s effort, contact PPEdonations@seattle.gov.
Inslee delivers update on state economic efforts, rolls out Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant Program
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee highlighted the state’s efforts to support its businesses and families, including a new $5 million program to help small businesses, at a press conference April 7.
Inslee said small businesses with 10 or fewer employees may apply for a grant of up to $10,000 from the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant Program. The program is funded through the state’s Strategic Reserve Fund. He also encouraged small Washington businesses to continue to apply for federal relief, despite the current demand for them that he said has been causing some “frustrations” nationally.
Of the $200 million the state legislature has allocated for emergency relief, Inslee said the state has spent $120 million. He said he has not yet asked the legislature to hold a special session, but said that the legislature is “perfectly willing to get back to work” to work to mitigate the statewide effects of the global pandemic.
Among other recipients, the money has gone to tribal governments, the Department of Agriculture, and local governments combating the virus.
Inslee also said that though there has been a positive impact of efforts to social distance, he urged Washingtonians to continue to stay inside. Just because these efforts have helped to slow the infection and flatten the curve, and that the state has been able to return 400 ventilators and 300 emergency beds to the federal government to distribute to other, harder-hit states, does not mean that Washington is out of the woods. Going out again and resuming life as usual will mean a surge in infections and deaths.
“There’s a human inclination to let up, to take it easy. That could be a fatal mistake,” Inslee said. “We are not free of the threat of losing hundreds of other Washingtonians.”
He also said that too many seniors are still going out and going to the grocery store, and that they should not be going out, if at all possible. Younger relatives and friends need to step in to help them, in order to keep them safe.
As of the evening of April 6, there have been 8,384 cases of the virus, with 372 deaths, according to the Department of Health’s tracking page.
Inslee launches Washington Food Fund to support statewide food banks
In cooperation with nonprofits and local philanthropic organizations, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee on April 7 announced the launch of the Washington Food Fund, a statewide effort meant to curb hunger throughout the state, as demand for food from local food banks increases in the wake of the current global pandemic.
In a video that showed Inslee standing in front of a sunny grove of cherry blossom trees, Inslee explained that “every dollar raised” for the fund would go to the state’s food banks, most of which are running low on supplies. Inslee said in the press release that contained the video that the state expects demand for food to double this week to 1.6 million people.
The fund is managed by Philanthropic Northwest, a network of charitable organizations that help families throughout the Pacific Northwest, and will combine business and philanthropic funds with individual donations.
The funds will be directed through three organizations — Northwest Harvest, Food Lifeline, and Second Harvest — which will distribute the money to local food banks across the state.
Donations to the state’s food banks have fallen 70 percent, a drop that most severely impacts already vulnerable communities. To date, the press release said, more than 350,000 Washingtonians have filed for unemployment insurance.
Donate to the Washington Food Fund here.
Durkan Announces Two Day Temporary Suspension of Public Works Construction for Health and Safety Training
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City of Seattle will require contractors and employees working on public works projects in Seattle to suspend work until Saturday, April 11. While these projects are permitted to continue under Governor Inslee’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, the two day temporary construction suspension of active public works projects will allow contractors and staff to implement rigorous social distancing requirements and update health and safety plans.
“Our foremost priority is the safety of our essential workers. While critical infrastructure and public safety projects continue, including the repair of the West Seattle Bridge and construction of affordable housing,” Said Durkan. “It is also imperative our job sites have implemented public health guidance that ensures the health and safety of their workers,”
Contractors were notified today that on Thursday, April 9th, all contracted public works projects in active construction will be temporarily suspended until April 11th. The City is requesting that contractors use this a time to review and update their Health and Safety Plans to ensure they reflect the most recent guidance regarding jobsite health screenings, personal protection equipment, social distancing, worker hygiene, worksite sanitation measures, decontamination measures following an incident and employee training.
All City contractors are required to operate with a City approved Health and Safety Plan. City departments have been working proactively with contractors since early March to ensure Health and Safety Plans responsive to COVID-19 are in place and protecting workers. The City will use this time to work with its contractors to review the updated plans to ensure they have implemented the latest CDC, OSHA and Washington State DOH public health guidance. The City also will be utilizing suspension time to provide additional safety training to construction management teams and ensure policies are consistent with City guidance as it relates to COVID-19.
Project work may continue upon the expiration of the 2-day suspension. If the City identifies an issue with a project HSP, a written notice will be issued and the suspension may be extended for that project until the issue has been resolved.
Washington schools will remain closed through June
Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a Monday press conference that Washington public and private schools will remain closed through the end of the school year in June as the state continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Schools will continue to provide remote learning.
“This decision is made on the clear epidemiological evidence that in order to give us a higher degree of confidence that we will suppress this pandemic, we simply cannot take the chance of re-opening on-site instruction in this calendar school year,” Inslee said.
Amazon Supplies 8200 Laptops to SPS Students
Seattle Public Schools, the Alliance for Education, and Amazon today announced that a donation by Amazon to supply 8,200 laptops to students will help close the gap in Seattle Public Schools’ continuous learning plan during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon’s permanent, direct to student donation, valued over $2 million, meets the estimated need for elementary students and will help toward the goal of providing all SPS students with access to a device while at home so they can participate in those parts of continuous learning that call for online access. This donation also kick starts a new fund — the “Education Equity Fund” — stewarded by the Alliance for Education, Seattle Public Schools’ nonprofit partner. This new fund will support students furthest from educational justice in accessing the technology, technical support and additional learning resources required to continue to learn during the COVID-19 crisis.
SPS closed schools on March 12 and immediately focused on providing students and families with core needs — meal distribution at 26 sites, as well as an overall approach to remote learning. As the breadth of the challenge for continuous learning came into focus, SPS and the Alliance for Education worked together on finding solutions to enhancing the effort. SPS will prioritize the laptop donations for elementary students who otherwise do not have access to a device at home. With this donation, SPS will be able to prioritize distributing district laptops to high school and middle school students.
“Amazon’s gift comes at a crucial time for our students,” said SPS Superintendent Denise Juneau. “We’ve never lost sight of the need to continue our students’ education — even during this unprecedented time — and our community partner Amazon now makes it easier to keep moving forward with the critical work of teaching and learning.”
Durkan Issues Executive Order to Align City Policies with Extended ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ Order
Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today issued an Executive Order to align the city’s policies on facility closures and permit suspensions with Governor Inslee’s statewide ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order, which is now extended until at least May 4, 2020. The Governor’s order was first announced on March 23 and bans all gatherings, closes all non-essential businesses unless employees can work from home, and requires all Washingtonians to stay home unless they are engaging in an essential activity.
“Limiting person-to-person contact is saving lives, and extending the ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order is critical to continuing to flatten the curve. The City, county, and state took early action to encourage social distancing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities and the preliminary data shows that our efforts are working,” said Durkan.
She added that far too many individuals continue to gather in parks and are not properly social distancing.
“For the health of our community, we all must do our part. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we will get through this if we continue to look out for one another’s health and wellbeing,” she said in a statement.
The Mayor’s Executive Order extends the following policies until May 4:
- Closure of City facilities including public-facing counters, Seattle Public Library locations, and community centers and Seattle beaches;
- Suspension of City-permitted events, with the exception of farmers markets which will continue to be evaluated for a potential re-opening;
- Suspension of enforcement of paid parking requirements on City streets and enforcement of select hourly time limits outside no-parking or special zones; and
- Continuing the Utility Discount Program’s self-certification pilot program.
The Mayor’s Executive Order extends the following policies until further notice:
- Suspension of enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule, and suspension of booting and towing vehicles with unpaid parking tickets;
- Creation of temporary restaurant loading zones, and temporary parking zones for hospital and human services staff; and
- Flexible payment plans and shutoff policies for City utilities.
Policies including deferred B&O payments, rent relief for tenants of City facilities, and the moratoriums on residential, nonprofit, and small business evictions follow timelines that extend beyond May 4.
New Fund Gives Immediate Support to Restaurant Workers
A new fund, The Plate Fund, has been introduced to provide an immediate $500 to restaurant workers who were laid off or have much reduced hours. This is a survival gap fund while government red tape is tying up the speedy distribution of the $1,200 checks.
Spearheaded by the Schultz Family Foundation with community partners and foundations, the fund was launched today with $4 million on hand. South and Central Seattle contributing restaurant owners include Bar del Corso, Fat’s Chicken and Waffles, Hood Famous Bake Shop, Island Soul Rum Bar & Soul Shack, Marjorie’s, Mioposto, Musang, Pho Bac Sup Shop, That Brown Girl Cooks, The Station and Wonder Ethiopian Restaurant & Sports Bar.
Here’s how it works as stated on their website: theplatefund.com
The Plate Fund provides $500 emergency relief grants to individuals in King County who have lost their jobs in the restaurant industry or are experiencing significantly reduced hours of work due to the COVID-19 crisis. The application is a simple process. To apply, applicants must:
- Upload a pay stub dated on or after March 1, 2020;
- Upload one form of government issued identification or two forms of alternate identification that includes an applicant’s residential address;
- Demonstrate that their gross income is no more than $62,000 per year, inclusive of tips;
- Provide bank account information;
- Verify that they have experienced a decrease in work hours or loss of their job.
Payments are made electronically. Applicants may receive funding as soon as 48 hours after their application is approved. Applications will be processed as fast as possible, however processing times may vary based on the volume of applications received.
Applications are reviewed and processed by UpTogether, a digital capital exchange platform that helps low-income people accelerate their economic mobility.
Gov. Jay Inslee commits to sending back 400 ventilators to federal government
Gov. Jay Inslee announced on April 5 that he will be sending 400 ventilators back to the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) for other harder-hit states like New York to use.
“These ventilators are going to New York and others states hardest hit by this virus,” Inslee said. “I’ve said many times over the last few weeks, we are in this together. This should guide all of our actions at an individual and state level in the coming days and weeks.”
The move comes after Inslee extended the stay-home order until May 4, citing an increase in cases of novel coronavirus and deaths throughout the state. Hospitalizations and deaths due to the virus are expected to rise in the coming weeks.
Separate from the 400 ventilators being sent back, the state has ordered 750 ventilators, which are expected to arrive as the number of cases in Washington State peaks.
Barring absolutely necessary trips to places like the grocery store or the pharmacy, Washingtonians are encouraged to continue to stay home, maintain social distancing, and wash their hands. Inslee has previously said that the rise in cases in counties outside King County is likely due to people ignoring the stay-home order.
King County Decreases Number of Those in Custody
The King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention says it is making progress on Executive Dow Constantine’s direction to quickly and safely decrease the number of people who are in custody at all correctional facilities.
There are 1,285 adults in custody today, down from 1,899 on March 13. The number of youth housed at the Children and Family Justice Center today is 36, down from 43. The reduction is mostly the result of courts, public defenders, prosecutors, and law enforcement prioritizing jail beds for those who pose an imminent risk to public safety.
No one in custody has tested positive for COVID-19 so far.
The Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention set up a website to provide the latest updates — including the number COVID-19 tests and the daily population — along with answers to frequently asked questions.
Reducing the number of adults in custody by more than 600 in a little more than two weeks has provided the staff with more opportunities to promote social distancing as recommended by Public Health — Seattle & King County. The number of youth at the Children and Family Justice Center was already low enough that each youth has their own dorm room where the staff can provide individualized care.
Three staff members — two at the King County Correctional Facility and one at the Children and Family Justice Center — have reported testing positive for COVID-19. None of them reported being symptomatic while they were at work. Department leaders have connected each of the staff members with all available resources.
If an adult in custody tests positive, the staff will transfer them to a designated housing unit at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent where they will provide appropriate care in medical isolation using personal protective equipment. Jail Health Services will transfer them to a hospital if their needs exceed the staff’s ability to provide appropriate care.
Seattle Temporarily Eliminates Paid Parking
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced that the City of Seattle will temporarily eliminate paid and time-limited street parking rules to support residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following Governor Inslee’s extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, the City will immediately implement these changes to parking so residents do not have to worry about tickets while they remain at home. Elimination of paid parking will also facilitate easier access to essential businesses for employees and customers.
Beginning tomorrow, April 4, The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) will implement the following temporary changes to parking enforcement in the City of Seattle:
- No payment will be required on streets with paid parking.
- Hourly time limits will not be enforced outside of Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ).
- Loading zones up to 30-minutes, including new food pick-up zones, will continue to be enforced.
- Other previously announced temporary parking enforcement changes including suspension of the 72-hour parking rule will continue until further notice.
- Special zones will still be in effect, including new zones for hospital and human services staff as well as existing zones for freight, food trucks, or charter buses.
- Restricted Parking Zone (RPZ) time limits will be enforced so that people who live in RPZ neighborhoods can still find parking near their homes.
Sound Transit Further Reducing Link Light Rail Service
Because of reduced staffing availability to operate service, Sound Transit said it will introduce additional service reductions on Link light rail and ST Express routes operated by Pierce Transit and King County Metro starting Monday, April 6.
The further service reductions also reflect an 85 percent system-wide reduction in ridership, with Link and almost all ST Express routes, as well as Sounder service, already operating at reduced levels. Due to reduced staffing availability, the transit authority said that riders should anticipate the possibility of impacts to scheduled trips as well as the potential for further reductions.
Link light rail trains, currently running every 14 minutes, will now run every 20 minutes. Riders can find a revised schedule online.
Sound Transit said the service reductions still allow for adequate social distancing to protect riders and operators. To prevent overcrowding, bus drivers may determine that a bus is full and not allow for additional passengers.
Expanded Resources for Childcare
The Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center has expanded its operations statewide to act as a child care response, resource and referral hub during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are now working directly with school districts and child care providers to help immediately connect families, especially first responders and essential personnel, to vacant child care spots and payment resources.
The Family Center, operated by Child Care Resources,will support families seeking child care, child care providers needing up to date COVID information and safety supports, as well as employers needing child care options for their workforce.
They’re expanded call center can serve callers immediately and in their home languages. The center can be reached at 1-800-446-1114.
The Child Care COVID Communications, Response and Referral Center:
•connects families directly to vacant child care slots, with a specific focus on essential workers,first responders and families using child care subsidies to pay for care.
•tracks child care openings and closures to ensure we have the most up to date child care openings to best match families to care—we even have the ability to accept and respond to text messages directly through the 1-800 number so providers can text us in real time with current openings or closures.
•helps child care programs remain open,if they so choose,and adapt their care to incorporate new safety measures, school-aged children, trauma-informed care, and other emerging needs.Our work with families and child care providers over the past 30 years makes us a trusted source for those who are finding themselves overwhelmingly and disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
IRS to Begin Sending Stimulus Checks on April 9
Some Americans who have not used direct deposit for past tax refunds could wait as long as five months to receive their check, however, according to an internal document obtained by The Post.
According to the payment schedule, electronic payments could go out next Thursday, with deposits being made by April 14 at the latest, The Post reported.
“If we know where to put the money, we’re going to press the button and put it there next week,” an anonymous IRS official told the publication.
The plan set priority starting April 24 for paper-check distribution to those with the lowest-income — individual taxpayers making $10,000.
Paper checks would be mailed out to Americans by $10,000 increments each week starting on that date, according to the internal document. For example, checks for those making $20,000 or less would be mailed a week later, on May 1, followed by Americans earning $30,000 or less on May 8 and so on.
Checks to joint taxpayers making $198,000 — the maximum eligible income for the stimulus package — would be distributed September 4 under the plan.
About 145 million Americans can expect cash meant to support those who have been affected by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, with about 6.6 million people filing for unemployment last week alone.
Durkan Announces Emergency Legislation to Keep Housing Projects Moving Forward
Following Gov. Jay Inslee’s extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order until May, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced emergency legislation to keep housing and key projects safely moving forward during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The legislation makes temporary land use permitting process changes that prioritize affordable housing development, keep projects moving forward by allowing experienced City staff to complete review processes, and enlists community participation by replacing in-person meetings with virtual and electronic outreach. These are processes that have all been impacted by public health mandates on social distancing and limited gatherings.
“There’s no roadmap for how we need to reinvent city government, but as we navigate this public health crisis, we have to turn to unconventional ways to ensure our City work and projects move forward in a responsible way that keeps everyone safe and healthy,” Durkan said in a statement.
Mayor Durkan’s plan will allow more than 30 projects, encompassing 3,000 homes including homes for middle-income families, to proceed. These projects were facing regulatory challenges based on the current Seattle Municipal Code.
Upon Council passage, Mayor Durkan’s emergency legislation will allow design review projects to be reviewed by staff from the Department of Construction and Inspection (SDCI) and will expedite reviews for City-funded affordable housing projects projected to come online next year.
The legislation also authorizes the Department of Neighborhoods to keep projects on track by allowing historic preservation staff to execute required approvals for minor changes to City Landmarks, Special Review Districts, Landmark Districts, and Historical Districts. The legislation will be in effect for six months.
Small Business Association Issues Details for Paycheck Protection Loans
The U.S. Small Business Administration on Thursday issued an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which is offering $349 billion in forgivable loans that small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic can use to cover costs including payroll and rent.
The interim final rule lays out additional implementation guidelines and requirements for the PPP, which Congress created as part of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136. The new rule provides greater clarity on several issues and changes the interest rate on loans made under the program from 0.5% to 1%, a change the American Bankers Association said would encourage banks of all sizes to participate in the program.
The CARES Act established the PPP as a new 7(a) loan option overseen by the Treasury Department and backed by the SBA, which is authorized to provide a 100% guarantee to lenders on loans issued under the program. The full principal amount of the loans may qualify for loan forgiveness if the borrower maintains or rehires staff and maintains compensation levels. However, not more than 25% of the loan forgiveness amount may be attributable to nonpayroll costs.
Loan payments will be deferred for six months; however, interest will continue to accrue during the six-month deferment. No collateral or personal guarantees are required.
The program is available to small businesses that were in operation on Feb. 15 with 500 or fewer employees, including not-for-profits, veterans’ organizations, Tribal concerns, self-employed individuals, sole proprietorships, and independent contractors. Businesses with more than 500 employees in certain industries also can apply for loans, according to the SBA and Treasury.
Democrats Postpone Convention
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Democratic National Convention, originally scheduled for July, has postponed their Convention to the week of August 17. While it is unclear that the pandemic will be under control enough to have 50,000 people descend upon Milwaukee, this is their current announcement.
There are no superdelegates in Southeast Seattle and South King County. Congressmembers Adam Smith and Pramila Jayapal are the superdelegates by virtue of their positions. The regular delegate process is currently under way in the 37th legislative district. The following number of delegates will be elected:
Bernie Sanders: 27 delegates and 14 alternates
Joe Biden: 20 delegates and 10 alternates
Although the delegate election process has been modified to accommodate social distancing, interested Democrats should contact: 37dems.org
Gov Inslee Hosting Twitter Q & A Today at 12pm
Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee will be hosting a COVID-19 Twitter Q&A today at 12 p.m. Those interested in participating are asked to tweet at Inslee with the hashtag #AskGovInslee.
While some have already started tweeting their questions, the Q&A session won’t begin until the designated time. There is no RSVP required.
April Fool’s Jokes
Today is the day that normally is filled with spoofs, elaborate tricks on friends and family and gotcha moments. But, the COVID-19 coronavirus is no joke. So, no elaborate stories that are as fake as some Rose Garden press conferences.
At the same time, it’s a real challenge to entertain and motivate children every day. So, here’s a harmless set of jokes for you to share with the kids in your life. These can be used by grandparents on the phone or Skype, parents needing to take a break to home schooling, or shouting at the park from a safe distance.
Alternative Routes for Metro Bus Riders
With many essential service providers needing to still rely on public transportation to get to an from work, King County Metro has maintained some routes, even as it has cut some entirely.
Route 9 ,traveling along Rainier Avenue, was a casualty of those cuts and Metro is advising riders to alternatively use routes 7 and 106 if traveling between Rainier Valley and First Hill. Riders can then transfer to/ from the First Hill Streetcar or route 60 at S. Jackson St. and 12th Ave S.
Council member Tammy Morales Hosting Virtual Town Hall on COVID-19 Crisis
Seattle City Council Member Tammy Morales (D2: South Seattle/ C-ID) will host a virtual Town Hall on Friday, April 3 from 3pm to 4:30pm to discuss the City’s COVID-19 measures.
Friday’s town hall is intended for the public at large. Those interested can RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
King Council Approves $2.2M for Emergency Childcare for First Responders and Other Essential Workers During COVID-19 Crisis
First responders and other essential workers in King County struggling with childcare needs will soon get some relief thanks to emergency legislation approved Tuesday by the King County Council.
The measure, requested by Executive Dow Constantine and approved unanimously by Council, provides $2.2 million in unspent Puget Sound Taxpayer Accountability Account funding to provide free childcare to eligible families of first responders and other essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these hardworking families have had difficulty finding childcare because many childcare providers and many child care providers and early learning facilities have closed due to declined enrollment.
First responders and essential workers include front-line essential medical professionals and support staff, first responders, childcare providers who are providing emergency care, grocery and pharmacy employees, and transit workers.
The legislation is a first step to ensure that first responders and critical essential personnel who live or work in King County outside the City of Seattle have access to safe, consistent and uninterrupted care, while supporting a network of childcare providers that need to fill vacant slots.
The County will work with Childcare Resources to identify providers and match families with vacant slots. Eligible providers will be reimbursed at higher rates to reflect start-up costs associated with new health and safety guidelines, health insurance offsets, or whatever is most needed for the site to continue operating. This effort will help ensure these facilities are still operating when the pandemic ends and families return to their normal working lives.
King County’s Department of Community and Human Services will oversee the program, while the City of Seattle will administer service agreements and payments.
New modeling reports suggest positive impact of social distancing measures on COVID-19 epidemic, but more progress needed
(From Public Health Insider)
Reductions in person-to-person contact through a variety of social distancing measures appear to be making a difference in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in King County, but those measures need to continue to succeed in decreasing and delaying the outbreak peak, according to two new reports by the Bellevue-based Institute for Disease Modeling (IDM).
Working with Public Health — Seattle & King County and using data from both Washington State Department of Health and Facebook, IDM first looked at changes in population mobility (people going to school, work, etc.) following increasing levels of social distancing measures in King County and Washington state, culminating in the statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. Using anonymized mobility data, results showed reductions in mobility beginning in early March. See full report here.
The IDM researchers then looked to see if these reductions in mobility could be related to reductions in COVID-19 transmission. Using a simulation of COVID-19 testing, diagnosis and death data for King County, they found that a measure of transmission, called the effective reproductive number, dropped by about half from about 2.7 in late February to roughly 1.4 on March 18th. This number represents the number of new transmissions stemming from each infection. In order to sustain a drop in new cases, each infected person, on average, must infect fewer than one person. See full report here.
“We are seeing a positive effect from the social distancing and other measures we’ve put in place, although significant numbers of cases and deaths continue to occur,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Health Officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Though Duchin cautions that the findings are based on relatively few cases, and therefore come with a great deal of uncertainty.
“No one should take these findings as an indication to relax our social distancing strategy. The threat of a rebound that could overwhelm the healthcare system remains and will remain for the foreseeable future if we let up too soon,” continued Duchin.
The results may indicate some headway has been made, Dr. Daniel Klein who leads the IDM computational research team says any excitement should be tempered by the fact the epidemic was still growing in King County as or March 18th.
“The main takeaway here is though we’ve made some great headway, our progress is precarious and insufficient,” said Klein.
Seattle Has New #SupportSmallBiz Map
Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan today announced the City of Seattle’s new #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, which helps residents find small businesses providing takeout or delivery in their neighborhood. The map allows users to search for open small businesses in their neighborhood and navigate directly to a business’ website or third-party delivery service page.
The map is part of the City’s #SupportSeattleSmallBiz campaign, which asks residents to post pictures and videos from their favorite Seattle restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries that are doing delivery, to-go, and drive-through with #SupportSeattleSmallBiz and #WeGotThisSeattle, and tag @SeattleEconomy. City staff are working to add these locations to the map as quickly as possible.
“At the City, we’re doing everything we can locally to support our small businesses during this unprecedented moment in history,” said Mayor Durkan in a statement sent to media.
Small businesses have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and preventative measures to slow its spread. Earlier in March, the State and County issued orders prohibiting in-person dining, and requiring all restaurants, bars, cafes, and breweries to transition to delivery, curbside pickup, and takeout only. These unprecedented measures to limit gatherings are critical to flattening the curve of the outbreak and savings lives. A recent study emphasizes the devastating impact COVID-19 could have on local small businesses and workers.
To use the map, residents can enter their location or drop a pin and find all the available restaurants near them. Once they select their restaurant, they can place a takeout or delivery order directly through the app or can receive directions to the restaurant. The map also connects users directly to third-party delivery services like Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Caviar to easily patronize a restaurant. Seattle Information Technology (ITD) built the map, and City staff partnered with community leaders and small business owners to populate the map with initial businesses.
Restaurant, bar, café, and brewery owners can enter their information into a brief survey to see their business appear on the public-facing map within minutes. To help ensure quality and consistent data, ITD has created an internal map and survey that business owners can use to enter their information. If you’re a business owner interested in adding your information to the #SupportSeattleSmallBiz map, please contact the City at email@example.com.
Council Unanimously Passes Resolution Calling For Immediate Moratorium on Residential and Commercial Rent, Mortgage Payments
Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID) and her Council colleagues passed her resolution calling on Gov. Inslee, federal legislators, and the Trump administration to use emergency powers to place a moratorium on commercial and residential rent and mortgage payments, providing necessary relief to thousands of Seattle residents and business owners struggling with the economic impacts of the coronavirus crisis.
Morales’s resolution is part of a nationwide movement calling for relief for renters, landlords and homeowners with mortgages. In San Francisco, elected leaders introduced a resolution calling for a moratorium on rent and mortgage payments to provide relief to those economically impacted by California’s shelter-in-place order. Councilmember Morales joins San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen, Dean Preston, and Matt Haney, as well as New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, in calling for a nationwide moratorium to help all residents and business owners impacted by this health crisis and the growing economic crisis.
“I’ve heard from hundreds of constituents asking for us to fight for them on this. Just over this weekend, I heard from 200 or so constituents who said that a moratorium on rent and mortgage would be the only way for them to survive this crisis. As elected leaders, we must be bold in fighting for the economic futures of renters, homeowners, property owners, and business owners,” said Morales.
Forty-seven percent of Seattle area renters are rent burdened. This means those experiencing loss of income due to the coronavirus crisis are accumulating significant amounts of personal debt, putting them on unstable financial footing in the future. Morales’s resolution requests for a rent freeze, so all rent due is forgiven when the crisis is over.
Additionally, mortgage-holders are still obligated to pay their lenders, creating a financial crisis for homeowners and landlords, which is why Morales is also calling for relief from mortgage payments.
“I really welcome this resolution because it provides support for our movement of renters and working people, who are fighting for their rights during this pandemic,” said Councilmember Kshama Sawant (District 3, Central Seattle), in support of Councilmember Morales’ resolution.
The Council expressed support for additional moratoriums on residential rental and homeowner costs such as renters’ insurance, property tax, and mortgage insurance.
Morales acknowledged her appreciation of her Council colleagues who are also prioritizing the “protection of our neighbors.”
King County Extending First-Half Property Due Date to June 1
King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that the county would extend the first-half property tax deadline to June 1 due to the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Constantine’s executive order only applies to individual residential and commercial taxpayers who pay property taxes themselves, rather than through their mortgage lender. Banks and other financial institutions that pay property taxes on behalf of their lending customers will still need to meet the original April 30 deadline.
“Many homeowners are facing extraordinary financial challenges during this public health emergency,” said Executive Constantine. “My order provides short-term relief for individual taxpayers who own residential or commercial property, while allowing the state, county, cities and special purpose districts to continue meeting community needs as we all pull together to get through this unprecedented crisis.”
The extension applies to both real property taxes (buildings and structures) and personal property taxes (equipment used in business). For those who can do so, King County is encouraging taxpayers to pay by the regular April 30 deadline or as soon thereafter as possible. The county will not add interest charges to the tax bill for individual taxpayers who pay the first half amount of their 2020 property taxes by June 1.
The Army will be sending 300 soldiers to staff a field hospital set up next to CenturyLink Field, Gov. Jay Inslee announced at a press conference on March 28.
The makeshift hospital will be used to treat patients who do not have COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in order to make more beds available in permanent hospital spaces to treat people who have COVID-19. The makeshift hospital will have at least 148 beds, and is expected to be operational within a week.
The news comes after the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the United States doubled within the space of two days, to stand at more than 124,000 cases on the morning of March 29. The country has the most number of confirmed cases in the world.
In Seattle, the number of confirmed cases stood at 4,310, with 189 deaths, as of the late afternoon of March 28.
Mayor Durkan To Issue Emergency Order to Fund Childcare for First Responders and Essential Workers
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced she will issue an Emergency Order later today to allow the City of Seattle to fund emergency childcare for essential workers including health care professionals, first responders and grocery store workers.
In partnership with Seattle Preschool Program providers, the City announced a proposal for more than $1 million per month which will allow the implementation of more than 75 emergency childcare classrooms in five locations near hospitals and 22 other preschool sites across the city, which could serve more than 700 kids of front line workers under current Public Health — Seattle & King County guidance. These classrooms, which will serve preschool as well as school-aged children, will be staffed with Seattle Preschool Program staff and substitute teachers.
The Mayor’s emergency order will allow the City of Seattle to use the Families, Education, Preschool and Promise funding for emergency childcare. The contracts under this emergency order will be in effect for 30 days and may be extended up to additional terms.
Essential worker childcare classrooms will begin to identify children on Monday, March 30th. The City’s Department of Education and Early Learning will coordinate with the Northwest Healthcare Response Network, the Seattle Police Department, the Seattle Fire Department and others to enroll families to ensure all medical personnel and first responders are aware of this new resource. Other eligible families can access care by visiting http://www.seattle.gov/education on Monday with classrooms expected to begin to open next week.
On March 12, 2020, the Governor of Washington state issued an order closing schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties then the following day expanded his order to require the statewide closure of K-12 public and private schools until April 24, 2020. The closure of schools and many childcare facilities has created an urgent need for childcare among those still required to come to work. A recent directive the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction indicates priority populations for childcare include essential workers like health care workers, first responders, pharmacy workers and grocery store workers among others.
House Passes Emergency Relief Bill
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Emergency Relief Bill that the Senate passed on Wednesday. The $2 trillion bill was passed by a voice vote after sufficient members had to risk leaving home to get back to Washington D.C. to vote. Most drove to remain isolated as much as possible.
The CARES Act, as it is named, has relief for workers, small business and corporations. This will provide one-time checks to workers of up to $1,200; higher paid workers will get less. While this is much needed relief, $1,200 may not even cover one month’s rent in the South End. Below is a clear summary from Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, a former state senator and resident of the South End.
The CARES Act includes:
· $150 Billion for a State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund: The bill creates a $150 billion State and Local Coronavirus Relief Fund to provide states and localities additional resources to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. It is estimated that Washington State will receive approximately $2.9 billion.
· $260 Billion in Dramatically Expanded Unemployment Benefits: The bill includes numerous provisions to improve unemployment benefits, including providing an additional $600 per week for the next four weeks, providing an additional 13 weeks of federally funded benefits, and expanding eligibility to include workers in the gig economy and self-employed workers.
· Immediate Direct Cash Payments to Lower and Middle-Income Americans: The bill provides for immediate, direct cash payments to lower-and middle-income Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, beginning to phase out at an annual income of $75,000 for an individual and $150,000 for a household.
· $375 Billion in Small Business Relief: The bill provides more than $375 billion in small business relief, including $349 billion for forgivable loans to small businesses to pay their employees and keep them on the payroll; $17 billion for debt relief for current and new SBA borrowers; and $10 billion in immediate disaster grants.
· Worker-Centered Industry Assistance: The bill requires businesses receiving federal assistance to maintain existing employment levels to the extent possible and prohibits stock buybacks or dividends for the length of any loan provided by the federal government plus one year and restricts any increases to executive compensation for two years. The bill also provides direct payroll payments to keep millions of airline workers on the job and receiving paychecks, while also prohibiting airline companies from stock buybacks and dividends for the entire life of a federal grant, plus one year.
· $200 Billion for Hospitals, Health Care Workers, and Health Research: The bill provides an investment of about $200 billion in our hospitals, health systems, and health research, including expanding funding for the personal protective equipment desperately needed by our health care workers, including ventilators, n95 masks, gowns, gloves, etc.
· More Than $100 Billion in Emergency Appropriations:
o Transit Agencies: The bill provides $25 billion to transit agencies, which have all seen a drastic drop in revenues as social distancing has been implemented. This funding is to be used to protect the jobs of the employees of the transit agencies, funding their paychecks during this public health emergency. Washington state will receive approximately $695 million under this program.
o HUD Emergency Solution Grants: The bill provides $2 billion for HUD Emergency Solution Grants to states that will be distributed by formula. These grants are designed to address the impact of the coronavirus among individuals and families who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness, and to support additional homeless assistance, prevention, and eviction prevention assistance. Of this $2 billion, Washington state will receive approximately $34 million. In addition, the bill provides an additional $2 billion for these grants that will be allocated by HUD to the most hard-pressed areas.
o Child Care and Development Block Grant: The bill supports childcare and early education by providing $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant. Washington state will receive approximately $ 58 million under this emergency appropriation.
o Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): The bill provides $900 million to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills. Washington state will receive approximately $11 million.
o Byrne-Justice Assistance Grant Program: The bill provides $850 million for this program, giving additional support to state and local law enforcement agencies, thereby allowing them, for example, to obtain the personal protective equipment and other medical items they may need during this public health emergency. Our state will receive approximately $16.7 million under this appropriation.
o CDC Coronavirus State, Local and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards: The bill provides about $750 million in CDC State, Local, and Tribal Grants Minimum Awards to help agencies cope with the public health emergency. The minimum award for Washington state is $12.7 million. In addition, states can apply for additional funds above their minimum award, based on their needs.
o Election Assistance: The bill provides $400 million for Election Assistance Grants for states to help prepare for the 2020 elections. Funding can be used, for example, to increase the ability to vote by mail, expand early voting, and expand online registration.
City of Seattle Expands Resources for Those Experiencing Homelessness
Building on the 1,900 new sites across the City to help individuals experiencing homelessness, the City of Seattle announced the deployment and maintenance of six hygiene facilities throughout the City, which augment the more than 128 Seattle Parks comfort stations that remain open for hygiene needs. This expansion of resources is a continuation of ongoing work by the City and County to bring critically needed resources to those most in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning tomorrow, the City will deploy and maintain 14 toilets and 6 handwashing stations near City Hall Park, Lake City Community Center, Jefferson Park, Westcrest Park, Cal Anderson Park, and Benvenuto Viewpoint. All areas are in close proximity to individuals experiencing homelessness. This is in addition to the more than 128 locations in parks throughout the City, available to all residents, and are currently being serviced by Seattle Parks and Recreation. The new facilities will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days per week. Daily maintenance will be provided including sharps disposal, waste removal and supplemental cleaning.
In addition to the portable toilets, the City expects to soon deploy at least four hygiene trailers with showers, toilets, and hand-washing stations. Currently under procurement, the trailer locations and staffing will be determined by Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) in partnership outreach teams and other departments and Public Health — Seattle & King County.
Thee Navigation Team has continued to do outreach during the outbreak to help those experiencing homelessness receive the hygiene resources they need with the distribution of nearly 600 hygiene kits over the past two weeks.
Army Corps of Engineers Chief Says Areas of CenturyLink Field Could be Retrofitted for Medical Usage.
Speaking to talk show host Rachael Maddow Thursday evening, Gen. Todd Semonite, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said that unutilized areas of CenturyLink Field could be converted into a temporary field hospital.
Seattle Comes Together to Celebrate People on the Front Lines in #MakeAJoyfulNoise
Seattle’s cultural community in association with the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture (City of Seattle) is encouraging residents to participate in a civic wide celebration of people on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Starting 8 p.m. sharp Thursday evening, they’re asking Seattleites to join a movement that began in European countries, opening their windows, standing on their balconies, from their front yards, backyards and or anywhere people can to make a joyful noise letting the healthcare and front line workers know how much we appreciate them. People can clap their hands, raise their voices, bang some pots and pans to show solidarity and let the front line know how much they are appreciated.
The message is simple, starting at 8 p.m #MakeAJoyfulNoise asks residents to:
Applaud their healthcare workers and celebrate those on the front lines, including grocery store workers, supply chain specialists, janitors, Fire, Police, nurses and doctors and health care workers, sanitary workers, and so many more .
People can take a picture, make a video and post #MakeAJoyfulNoise as well as #SeattleTogether
Record Number of Unemployment Claims Due to Coronavirus
A record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department said Thursday, as restaurants, hotels, barber shops, gyms and more shut down in a nationwide effort to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Last week saw the biggest jump in new jobless claims in history, surpassing the record of 695,000 set in 1982. Many economists say this is the beginning of a massive spike in unemployment that could result in over 40 million Americans losing their jobs by April.
Laid off workers say they waited hours on the phone to apply for help. Websites in several states, including New York and Oregon, crashed because so many people were trying to apply at once.
In Washington, the Unemployment Security Department’s call center has seen an 827% spike in calls.
Chris Mefford, the CEO and President of Community Attributes Inc. prepared a report for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce that found 40% of all jobs (or about 900,000 people) in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties are going to be affected immediately.
Senate Passes $2 trillion Emergency Relief Bill, Awaits House Vote Friday
(From Washington Post) Facing one of the worst economic downturns in American history, one that is unsparing in its trauma, the Senate late Wednesday unanimously approved a $2 trillion emergency relief bill that attempts to arrest the financial havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Lawmakers acted with unusual speed and cooperation to produce the largest economic rescue package in U.S. history, just hours before the release of a Labor Department report showing a record 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week.
The sprawling legislation, which passed 96 to 0, would send checks to more than 150 million American households, set up enormous loan programs for businesses large and small, pump billions of dollars into unemployment insurance programs, greatly boost spending on hospitals, and much more.
The unanimous vote sends the legislation to the House, which is expected to pass it Friday morning.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan praised the Senate’s action in a statement sent to media at 9:09pm Wednesday night.
“The Senate’s legislation rightly includes an expansion of unemployment insurance to cover gig workers and other vulnerable workers. I am grateful to see other needed investments in affordable housing, services for people experiencing homelessness, small business owners, and workers. I am grateful to Senator Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, and our Congressional delegation for ensuring our city and state’s priorities were at the forefront of this bill.”
About 80% of Americans will receive stimulus checks once the bill passes. You can calculate how much you’ll likely receive here.
All King County Parks Are Closed
As part of its ongoing efforts to protect public health and curb transmission of COVID-19, King County Parks is closing parks Wednesday, March 25. Parking lot and trailhead gates will be locked, and restrooms will be closed. King County does not have the resources at this time to actively enforce Parks closures and social distancing guidelines and will rely upon the public to follow the guidelines.
The closure comes on the heels of Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, which included guidance to further restrict groups from gatherings.
We ask that everyone respect parks closures and refrain from using King County parks, including regional and backcountry trails. We are unable to physically block off all entrances to parks and trails. We appreciate our park users helping us slow the spread of this virus and their patience as we work through this challenging time. King County also urges visitors to not park illegally on roadways near parks and trails, or block park gates
Essential Businesses Hiring During the Coronavirus Crisis in Washington
(King 5) Many essential services allowed to continue under Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order are seeking additional employees during the coronavirus pandemic due to increased demand. Those include but are not limited to healthcare workers, grocery services, and marijuana growers and stores.
The growing list of essential businesses advertising for new hires include: 7-Eleven, Amazon, CVS Pharmacies, and PCC.
View the full list here.
Senate to vote Wednesday on $2 trillion Coronavirus Bill
(From the Washington Post) The United States Senate plans to vote Wednesday afternoon on a $2 trillion stimulus package that is designed to flood the U.S. economy with money in an effort to stabilize households and businesses that have been floored by the coronavirus outbreak.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced the breakthrough on the Senate floor around 1:30 a.m., after a long day of talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other administration officials.
The Senate reconvenes at midday, and a vote could come shortly after that.
The legislation, unprecedented in its size and scope, would send $1,200 checks to many Americans, create a $367 billion loan program for small businesses, and establish a $500 billion lending fund for industries, cities and states.
Other provisions include $150 billion for state and local stimulus funds and $130 billion for hospitals.
Public Health Seattle & King County announced Tuesday additional guidance for child care and early learning programs that are considered part of the essential workforce. In addition, King County will expand support services to providers.
New health and safety guidance for child care providers remaining open during the COVID-19 outbreak are available on a new website, and include directives on encouraging more physical space between children. The full rundown of guidelines can be read here.
Trump Wants “Country Opened by Easter”
(From the Washington Post) The White House coronavirus task force, citing concern about the high infection rate in the New York City area, is asking everyone who has left that area recently to self-isolate for 14 days, wherever they are.
Deborah Birx, the response coordinator for the task force, said at a Tuesday news conference that 60 percent of all the new cases in the United States are coming out of the New York City metro area.
“To everyone who has left New York over the last few days, because of the … number of cases, you may have been exposed before you left New York,” Birx said.
President Trump said Tuesday that he wants the country “opened up” by Easter — April 12 — and continued to play down the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic even as experts warned of a worsening crisis.
City of Seattle Urges Residents and Businesses to Continue to Visit Community Resource Page to Help People Experiencing Significant Disruptions due to COVID-19
To help communities significantly impacted by COVID-19 in Seattle, the City of Seattle created a new centralized website where residents can find information about relief programs offered by the City, the County and the State. This site pulls together resources for workers, artists, small businesses, non-profits, parents, homeowners, and community members to make it easier for City of Seattle residents to find assistance during this unprecedented public health crisis. You can visit the statewide website here.
“We know families and small business are already hurting as we grapple with the full effects of COVID-19 and critical preventative measures. To help reduce the impact of this outbreak on our communities, the city has been working on a number of unprecedented efforts as it relates to housing assistance, meals, and small businesses,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “We know there must be additional resources from federal and state government to help provide help for businesses and families. In order to maximize these resources in our community, we’ve launched this site to serve as a hub of all tools available to working families and businesses during this challenging time.”
Currently, the site contains information about programs related to healthcare, food, utilities (including electricity, water, sewer, garbage, and internet), unemployment benefits, tax deferment, home education, small business stabilization, and more. The Mayor’s Office also plans to roll out an interactive map for small businesses as part of the City’s #SupportSeattleSmallBiz campaign in the near future. As more resources become available, the site will be updated.
UW researchers to study resilience, well-being among King County residents during pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic prompts governments to close schools, shutter restaurants, ban many gatherings and curtail travel, researchers at the University of Washington want to understand the impact of the disease and these new restrictions on our lives. The King County COVID-19 Community Study — or KC3S — is gathering data through April 19 on how individuals and communities throughout King County are coping with the measures put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“We want to start collecting this information now — as the COVID-19 pandemic is unfolding — about how families and communities are being impacted, and how they are adapting,” said Nicole Errett, a lecturer in the UW Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences, who is one of the leaders of the new study.
Errett is working with Tania Busch Isaksen, who is a senior lecturer in the department and a UW clinical assistant professor of health services. Any adult King County resident can take part in the study, which consists of an online questionnaire and a written piece, prepared by the participant, of up to a page in length.
The study’s goals are to determine the ways in which communities, families and individuals are being impacted by the disease and capture community displays of resilience. Ultimately, the researchers hope to use the results to provide recommendations to public health officials on measures that can promote well-being while still protecting the public at-large.
The online questionnaire, which can be found on the KC3S website, asks participants about particular behaviors they may have engaged in — such as hand-washing and avoiding large crowds — as the pandemic unfolded, as well as concerns they have about COVID-19, their well-being and demographic information. The questionnaire is currently available in English and Spanish, with other languages planned, according to Errett.
The written description — which can be as short as a sentence or as long as a page — invites participants to describe in their own words the ways that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them, and how they, their families and communities are adapting and coping.
The researchers plan to analyze the stories to see if common problems, issues and displays of resilience arise as public health restrictions were put into place.
Humanity has faced pandemics before, such as with influenza in 1918. But the COVID-19 pandemic is the largest such event in modern times. The social-distancing measures put in place are an opportunity to study their effects, according to Errett.
Though these restrictions are put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, concerns have been raised about their unintended effects. For example, social-distancing measures may leave certain at-risk populations, such as the elderly, feeling isolated, which can negatively impact mental health and well-being. As businesses close, hourly workers are concerned about income and job security.
Few studies have measured how current public health restrictions impact well-being, or how communities could try to come together to help individuals adapt, according to Errett.
King County residents who would like to participate in the study should visit the KC3S site at https://deohs.washington.edu/covid-19.
Washington has joined at least a dozen other states in issuing orders for residents to “stay-at-home,” in an effort to slow the growing coronavirus outbreak. Only “essential businesses,” may remain open to the public.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced the statewide order at Monday at 5:30 p.m. The order takes effect immediately for residents, and in 48 hours for businesses. The order will be in place for a minimum of two weeks.
President Trump orders National Guard to Washington State
President Trump on Sunday ordered the National Guard to Washington State, California, and New York, in order to provide additional aid and resources to the three states. More medical supplies will be shipped to these states, and National Guard troops will help construct additional medical facilities in specified locations. Washington State will get 1,000 more hospital beds, and a number of stations.
Seattle Public Schools TV to begin Monday
On Monday, the Seattle Public School District will begin providing educational programming on SPS TV. The short videos will feature teachers providing optional instruction a variety of subjects and grade levels. The district will also offer related, printed materials at school lunch distribution sites for families who do not have access to TV or internet. More information is available at this link.
Downtown Link Light rail tunnel construction concludes
Link light rail will return to two-track service in downtown Seattle stations beginning Monday. The return follows the conclusion of Connect 2020, an 11-week period of major light rail service impacts while construction crews connected the existing light rail system in downtown Seattle to East Link in preparation for the 2023 extension of service to Mercer Island, Bellevue and Redmond.
With the project’s completion, riders through Downtown Seattle will no longer need to transfer at Pioneer Square, and restrictions on bicycles will end.
With light rail ridership down nearly 70 percent as the region battles the spread of the novel coronavirus, trains will continue to run every 14 minutes under temporary service reductions announced last week. Because of these reductions, which also affect Sounder and some ST Express routes, as well as King County Metro Transit services, resources such as Google maps, One Bus Away and other apps and websites may not have accurate schedule information for all trips.
With the end of the Connect 2020 disruption, the existing tunnel is now configured for East Link in preparation for 2023, when light rail expands to 10 new East King County stations. Before then, three new stations — U District, Roosevelt and Northgate — will begin service in 2021, boosting ridership and increasing the importance of completing this work now.
Everett Mayor Tells Residents to Stay Home
As reported by KING 5, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin has issued a directive for all residents to stay home as the coronavirus continues to spread.
“I had to act in this way to protect my local community. From what I’m seeing in our city I feel that this was the right time to issue this directive,” she told the news station.
The directive does not apply to people working in fields considered essential, such as healthcare, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, and even childcare facilitates, and more.
Mayor Franklin said they consulted other cities under similar directives as to what job and businesses are essential. She said, “If we have a business that is developing ventilators, we want to make sure they stay operational. And obviously we don’t want to interrupt the food supply chain, we need those businesses to stay operational.”
Gov. Jay Inslee has not yet ordered a similar directive for the state of Washington. Everett is one of the first cities, in the state to do so.
King County Joins with Harborview Medical Center to Open COVID-19 Recovery Site for Unhoused Population
King County has joined with Harborview Medical Center to plan for opening an isolation and recovery center in the county’s Harborview Hall building, located at 326 Ninth Avenue.
Harborview Hall, which is across the street from Harborview Medical Center, will be repurposed to serve as a recovery site primarily for people who do not have a home to rest and recover and who may have other health needs requiring a level of monitoring.
This location will offer a very vulnerable population a safe place to recover, with onsite clinical support provided by Harborview Medical Center staff. This may include people who are awaiting the result of their COVID-19 test result or a COVID-19 patient who has mild symptoms and doesn’t require hospitalization.
Seattle Temporarily Suspending Enforcement of 72-Hour Parking Violations, Booting and Towing
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) are implementing temporary changes to parking enforcement in the City of Seattle. As parking and transportation needs have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SDOT is adjusting its parking rules to better support residents’ and businesses’ needs during this time.
Rule changes will be made to the following three areas:
- 72-Hour Parking Rule
- Booting and Towing
- Temporary Restaurant Loading Zones
“We’re implementing new parking regulations to better meet our community’s needs during this unprecedented moment in history,” said Mayor Durkan. “As the pandemic continues, we’re seeing more and more residents smartly stay in their homes, and no one should be punished for following public health guidance and preventing community spread.”
Inslee Decides Against Shelter in Place
Gov. Jay Inslee said Friday he would not legally order Washington residents to shelter-in-place, but he did plead with everyone to stay home, especially those over age 60.
However, Inslee did say that he would consider stronger action should people continue to defy his imperative to avoid gathering in groups, self-isolate when possible, and stay six feet away from other people.
King County and City of Seattle close playgrounds and sports courts, parks and trails users directed to follow social distancing guidelines
To follow COVID-19 social distancing guidelines established by Public Health—Seattle & King County and the Washington Department of Health, King County Parks and Seattle Parks and Recreations are closing sports courts, playground equipment, and other active recreation areas where it could be difficult to maintain recommended social distancing guidelines.
Ballfields and playfields are open for walking and other non-team activities.
The closure includes picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained remain open.
“With schools closed and people adapting to new work habits, our parks and open spaces can provide an important break in these stressful times. It is clear, however, that we must continue to be vigilant in these places as well, and make sure all our residents put into practice Public Health directives,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Go for a hike. Take the family for a stroll. Kick a soccer ball around with your kids. But use good sense and avoid gatherings, team sports, pick-up games, and playground equipment.”
King County’s Online “Marketplace” Connects Donors With People and Organizations in Need
The King County Regional Donations Connector is now available online to link up individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others who have resources with those who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Donations Connector will help make sure services, supplies, and funding reach health care providers, first responders, and social service entities working on the front lines.
The website at kingcounty.gov/emergency/donate serves three major functions:
- A system that allows donations and offers of assistance to be used in the response effort.
- An online “marketplace” where offering organizations can be matched to those in need.
- An easily searchable list of ways the public can get help.
Donating businesses, agencies, and individuals are invited to share what they have to contribute (such as funding, medical supplies, masks, counseling, or other goods and services) and link up with organizations involved in the COVID-19 pandemic response.
Who is the Donations Connector for?
- Private and public entities with items or services to donate
- Community and faith-based organizations
- The general public
What types of donations are requested?
- Food (both perishable and non-perishable)
- Medical supplies
- Sanitary supplies
- Facility space
- Services such as counseling (legal, mental health, etc.), labor, janitorial, catering, event planning, and more
People who want to volunteer their time should contact local volunteer groups or register through the United Way of King County at volunteer.uwkc.org/volunteer-response-covid-19. Also, the Connector is intended for donations of goods in bulk quantities – smaller donations should go through existing community donation channels. Once donor and recipient are connected, they will need to independently arrange for pickup and delivery as needed.
King County Metro to Discontinue Fare Collections Beginning Saturday
Effective with the start of service Saturday, March 21, riders will not be required to pay fare when riding King County Metro services, including buses, water taxi and Access paratransit, until further notice, according to a statement issued by King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office.
Riders also will be directed to board and exit at the rear doors of buses, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or who require use of the boarding ramp.
Later in the day, Sound Transit also announce it will suspend fare requirements on buses and trains until further notice to help protect transit employees and riders through social distancing.
“As this crisis evolves, we are constantly reviewing all of our practices and policies to provide the best service while keeping people safe,” said Executive Constantine. “Changing how riders board and exit our bus fleet and also suspending all fares is part of that effort. It is essential to keep this community on the move, and I thank all the operators, mechanics, support staff, and riders who are helping us get through this, together.”
These moves acknowledge the direction of public health to take steps necessary to limit the spread of COVID-19 and we continue to call on riders to do all they can by avoiding traveling when sick, covering coughs and sneezes.
Metro is relaying these planned changes to our partners at Sound Transit and the City of Seattle as they consider changes to ST Express bus service, Link light rail and Streetcar.
Metro is communicating this upcoming change with transit operators today and working to develop and install signage directing customers to board and exit at the rear doors unless and that fare payment is not required starting March 21.
City of Seattle to Provide Immediate Rent Relief for Nonprofit and Small Business Tenants
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the City of Seattle will provide $400,000 in rent relief to arts and cultural and other nonprofits, small businesses, and artists’ studios that are located on City-owned facilities. An estimated 90 tenants on the Seattle Center grounds and on Parks and Recreation facilities will receive immediate financial relief in the form of rent waivers or rent deferment for April and May.
“Earlier this week, we announced an eviction moratorium to help our small businesses and nonprofits retain their livelihoods and a first-of-its-kind Arts Recovery Package. We’re building on that work by providing immediate financial relief for renters of City-owned facilities,” said Mayor Durkan. “We know that the economic impacts on our small businesses, nonprofits, and cultural community will be devastating, and that many might not be able to pay rent for weeks and months to come. I urge property owners throughout the City to adopt this practice immediately if they’re able to. Now more than ever, we must be compassionate with one another, and look after each other during this unprecedented time.”
“Providing rent relief for our nonprofit partners and small businesses in City-owned buildings will allow them to continue to do their important work serving our community during this uncertain time. Our nonprofit human service providers are on the front lines, serving vulnerable communities who are most impacted by the coronavirus, and small businesses keep our local economy strong. Together, with the workers who keep them running, they make up the fabric of our community and we must protect them.” said Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda (Position 8, Citywide).
While rent arrangements vary across City-owned facilities, the City will provide rent relief in the equivalent of two months. For nonprofit organizations and renters with artist studio licenses, including Seattle Children’s Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Cascade Bicycle Club, the relief is in the form of rent forgiveness. For businesses including Arena Sports, Marination Station, and vendors in the Armory their rent will be deferred.
The City of Seattle is committed to providing immediate relief for small businesses and arts and cultural and other nonprofit organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. Through this initiative the City will work with organizations and businesses on an individual basis to develop longer-term responses. The City will be looking at all components of rent arrangements including cash, public benefit, in-kind and capital investment rent.
“These arts and cultural organizations and small businesses make the unique fabric of this city a place we all want to call home. We are doing everything we can to ensure that they will still be here when this crisis is over and we can celebrate once again this incredible city,” said Seattle Office of Arts & Culture director Randy Engstrom.
“Our parks and recreation tenants are our partners in extending our recreation offerings in diverse, innovative, and accessible ways. I am pleased that the City will be able to offer this critical support to these partners at such a challenging time for our city,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation superintendent Jesús Aguirre.
The City has created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.
No Shelter in Place Announcement From Inslee, Yet
Though Californians are under a shelter in place order, Governor Jay Inslee has yet to announce a similar mandate for Washington state.
Speaking on behalf of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, spokesperson said current social distancing practices like working from home, are comparable to sheltering in place.
Metro announces temporary service reductions starting Monday
Metro will temporarily move to a Reduced Schedule starting Monday, March 23. This shift comes two days after Metro’s pre-scheduled Spring Service Change goes into effect on Saturday, March 21.
Under this temporary Reduced Schedule, buses will run less frequently throughout the day. Bus service may also start later in the morning and end earlier in the evening. Some routes will not operate and nearly all routes will see individual trip cancellations. Metro is also suspending its Via program indefinitely.
The Reduced Schedule is in response to reduced ridership since the emergence of COVID-19. These service reductions are also designed to maintain a resilient and sustainable transit system that’s able to keep our region moving every day and to ramp back up when this chapter closes.
Routes with fewer bus trips and/or reduced hours of operation: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 21, 24, 26, 27, 28, 31, 32, 33, 36, 37, 40, 41, 43, 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 55, 56, 57, 60, 62, 63, 64, 65, 67, 70, 71, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 101, 102, 106, 107, 111, 113, 114, 116, 120, 121, 122, 123, 124, 128, 131, 132, 143, 148, 150, 153, 156, 157, 158, 159, 164, 166, 167, 168, 169, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 182, 183, 186, 187, 190, 192, 193, 197, 212, 214, 216, 217, 218, 219, 221, 225, 226, 230, 231, 232, 239, 240, 241, 245, 246, 249, 252, 250, 255, 257, 268, 269, 271, 301, 303, 304, 311, 312, 316, 331, 342, 345, 346, 347, 348, 355, 372, 373, A Line, B Line, C Line, D Line, E Line, F Line, ST 522, ST 541, ST 542, ST 545, ST 550, ST 554, ST 555, ST 556, 907, 913, 931, 952, Des Moines Community Shuttle (635)
Council Passes Emergency Legislation to Help Small Businesses, Provide Utilities Relief
(from press release)
As part of a Special meeting of the City Council, members voted unanimously to approve two amended pieces of emergency legislation intended to help provide relief for small business and utility customers.
The focus of the meeting was on two pieces of legislation related to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis:
Council Bill 119757, sponsored by Councilmember Tammy J. Morales, (District 2 – South Seattle and C/ID), passed with a vote of 9-0 and transfers $1.5 million in city funds to the Small Business Stabilization Fund, which will support vulnerable small businesses in Seattle that are facing financial uncertainty due to the public’s economic response to COVID-19.
“The city is creatively thinking of every way it can to support Seattle businesses. Small Business Stabilization Fund grants will provide emergency working capital to small businesses to help them through this crisis. An additional amendment I sponsored included a request that the Office of Economic Development prioritize racial equity to the grant program, and requires OED to provide reports to my committee to ensure accountability,” Morales said.
A forthcoming second council bill will further expand the Small Business Stabilization fund by transferring an additional $1 million in City funds. The legislation will be posted to the Introduction & Referral Calendar on Friday (March 20), and will be voted on during a future meeting of the Full Council.
Council Bill 119758, sponsored by Councilmember Alex Pedersen, (District 4 – Northeast Seattle) passed in a 9-0 vote and waives interest charges on delinquent utility bills during this crisis. This legislation relates to Mayor Jenny Durkan’s announcement that Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will provide other utility relief for residential, small business, and nonprofit customers, including flexible payment plans and no shut-offs during this crisis.
The Small Business Stabilization Fund is geared toward businesses with 5 or less employees that have experienced a loss of income due to impacts related to the COVID-19 emergency. Business owners must have a household income at or below 80 percent of Area Median Income.
For information on eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit OED’s website. Applications are expected to close on Wednesday, March 25, 2020.
Sound Transit to Temporarily Reduce Service on Link light rail, Sounder Trains, Some ST Express Routes
As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, starting Monday Sound Transit will respond to its greatly reduced ridership by temporarily reducing service on Link light rail and Sounder trains. ST Express routes operated by King County Metro will also see a reduction in service.
ST Express buses operated by Community Transit and Pierce Transit, as well as service on Tacoma Link service will remain unchanged for the time being. However, service could be reduced in the future based on reduced ridership and/or staffing impacts.
“The changes that we are implementing respond to our dramatically reduced ridership while still preserving reliable service and maintaining ample flexibility for social distancing by riders,” said Peter Rogoff, CEO of Sound Transit. “In this challenging time we will continue to treat transit as a lifeline for people who need to travel, including people caring for relatives, first responders, health care workers and other essential personnel.”
The changes in service reflect significant declines in ridership since the beginning of the COVID-19 emergency. As of the beginning of this week, system total ridership was down approximately 69 percent. The new service levels also reflect the fact that the outbreak has led to operations and maintenance staff staying home in higher numbers, making it difficult to maintain existing service.
While implementing service reductions, Sound Transit remains committed to serving the public and will continue to meet the needs of transit-dependent riders as well as services for low-income, minority and limited-English-proficiency populations. We will continue to run trains and buses at our earliest and latest service hours. However, staffing availability, further ridership reductions and/or government directives related to COVID-19 could impact service further as the regional response continues.
Link light rail
Closures of Downtown Seattle Link stations will begin Friday evening and extend through the weekend as crews wrap up the Connect 2020 construction process, through which Sound Transit has connected East King County tracks to the system in preparation for the 2023 opening of East Link. Upon the scheduled Monday reopening of service, Sound Transit will respond to greatly reduced rider demand by retaining the 14-minute train frequencies that have been in place during the construction period, which provide ample capacity for current ridership while maintaining space for social distancing. With the conclusion of Connect 2020, passengers will no longer need to transfer at Pioneer Square and bicycle restrictions will be lifted.
During the weekend closure shuttle buses will connect riders for travel between downtown stations and Capitol Hill and SODO stations. Shuttle buses will operate every 17-10 minutes. Fares will not be required for train or shuttle bus passengers.
Seattle Designates COVID-19 Testing Site for First Responders, Conducted by First Responders
Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, and Police Chief Carmen Best today announced the nation’s first COVID-19 testing for first responders, conducted by first responders. The pilot program began on March 14 for Seattle firefighters and police officers and similar models are expanding in the coming weeks throughout the county.
First Responders who have been placed in isolation and are showing symptoms of COVID-19 are prioritized and eligible for testing at this new site. The City is also allowing neighboring fire department personnel and private ambulance company employees who are symptomatic to receive testing as capacity allows with approval from their own agency’s leadership.
“Limited access to testing hampered our ability to respond and made protecting our most vulnerable communities and saving lives a challenge. Chief Scoggins and Seattle Fire Departments didn’t wait for the federal government — they acted, and I am grateful for their leadership to keep our first responders safe. A pandemic response requires robust testing and modeling so leaders can escalate effective, science-based policies, and access to the proper equipment to protect our frontline workers. This pilot is a very promising pivot in the right direction and will help us combat the spread of COVID-19.”
Personnel are instructed to drive to the site in their personal vehicles at a designated time and are tested by Seattle Fire Department (SFD) and Seattle Police Department (SPD) emergency medical technicians through the vehicle window. Testing takes approximately one to two minutes and consists of taking nasal swabs. The testing swabs are sent to the University of Washington Virology lab for processing, and results are received within 72 hours. Personnel administering the tests are wearing a more durable level of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to minimize PPE consumption during the process of collecting nasal swabs.
Testing for first responders at this site was approved on March 13 by the Washington State Department of Health and is funded by King County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the City of Seattle. First responders were initially trained on March 14. The site currently has capacity to test over 50 first responders per day. As of March 18, a total of 38 local first responders have received testing at this site.
UW Advising Against Cherry Blossoms Visits Amid COVID-19 Outbreak
The University of Washington is advising Cherry blossom enthusiasts to avoid coming to UW’s campus this spring to see the trees and instead enjoy a virtual viewing experience at home, via a statement sent to media publications this morning.
Thousands of people ritualstic visit campus each spring to see the cherry blossoms. The university’s order is in compliance with state and local public health proclamations that prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, parking on campus to view the blossoms is discouraged.
A webcam overlooking the Quad is available for viewers to enjoy the trees remotely. Over the coming weeks, the university will share progress photos and videos on the cherry blossoms’ Twitter account, @uwcherryblossom and on UW News.
After Spike in Hiker Related Calls, King County Sheriff’s Office Issues Safe Practices
After calls related to injured and lost hikers spiked during the ongoing COVID-19 Crisis, The King County Sheriff’s Office has released a list of 10 essentials and safe practices while outdoors. Wishing to devote more resources towards the ongoing crisis, they’re hopeful the list diminishes the number of searches for wayward mountaineers.
· Navigation- map, compass, GPS
· Sun Protection- glasses, sunscreen, hat
· Insulation- extra clothes, avoid cotton
· Illumination- headlamp, flashlight
· First aid supplies- know how to use
· Emergency fire- camp stove, matches
· Repair kit and tools- what can break
· Nutrition- enough and extra food
· Hydration- enough and extra water
· Emergency shelter and Communication- cell phone, whistle
Trump: FDA will fast track anti-viral treatments for coronavirus patients
During the White House’s morning Covid-19 press conference, President Trump said the FDA will be fast-tracking anti-viral treatments for coronavirus. The agency plans to research the effects of a drug called chloroquine, which is an existing anti-malarial drug, on treatments for COVID-19.
A vaccine trial is currently underway in Washington State. But FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said at the press conference it could take 12 months before a vaccine for the virus will be approved.
Another drug, called remdesivir, is currently in clinical trials for treatment of the virus. Hahn says medical professionals use the drug through a process called “compassionate use.” Compassionate use allows doctors to request experimental drugs for their patients under certain circumstances. The FDA can then monitor how the drug affects the patient.
Hospital Workers Produce DIY Masks as Medical Supplies Dwindle
Workers at Providence St. Joseph Health in Renton, WA purchased vinyl sheets, foam and industrial tape from Home Depot and began manufacturing their own face shields and masks after supplies began to dwindle. President Trump said he was immediately deploying two Navy hospital ships to free up capacity in civilian hospitals, but the Pentagon acknowledged Wednesday the USNS Comfort and USNS Mercy will take weeks to deploy.
Inslee announces relief for businesses, workers, renters and more in response to COVID-19 outbreak
Gov. Jay Inslee announced substantial measures for Washington state businesses and workers, as well as renters and other residents who may struggle financially to pay utility bills while dealing with loss of income during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is in addition to the state support for workers and businesses, and the state financial, export, insurance and unemployment assistance that has already been made available.
“These are unprecedented times,” Inslee said. “We must do everything we can to support the resiliency of Washington workers and employers.”
Among the measures announced by the governor is a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for the next 30 days.
Inslee said that as Washington faces the economic impacts of COVID-19, no person should be put out of their home as a result.
Residential landlords are prohibited from serving a notice of unlawful detainer for default payment of rent. Residential landlords would also be prohibited from issuing a 20-day notice for unlawful detainer, unless the landlord attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is believed necessary to ensure the health and safety of the tenant or other individuals.
Under these measures, law enforcement may not enforce eviction orders based solely on non-payment of rent. This excludes other circumstances, such as the commission of a crime on the premises or nuisance issues.
Additionally, residential landlords would be prohibited from initiating judicial action seeking a writ of restitution involving a dwelling unit if the alleged basis for the writ is the failure of the tenant or tenants to timely pay rent.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his legal team helped craft the proclamation temporarily halting evictions.
You can read about Inslee’s additional measures here.
Trump Signs Coronavirus Relief Bill Providing Paid Leave to Small Fraction of U.S. Workers
President Trump Wednesday signed a coronavirus relief package providing unemployment benefits and free coronavirus testing to millions of Americans suddenly out of a job.
The aid package guarantees paid sick leave to less than 20% of American workers. It does not apply to companies with 500 or more employees, and workplaces with fewer than 50 employees can request to opt out. On Wednesday, the White House also ordered the suspension of evictions and foreclosures through April.
Washington Safeways and Albertsons will reserve time for “at-risk” shoppers.
Safeway and Albertsons stores in Washington announced that they will be reserving Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 – 9 a.m. for “at-risk shoppers,” including seniors, pregnant woman, those with compromised immune systems or people who have been advised to avoid leaving home.
Durkan Signs Emergency Order to Temporarily Halt Evictions of Small Businesses and Nonprofit Organizations, Announces $1 Million Expansion of Small Business Stabilization Fund
(From press release)
To further support small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an Emergency Order on Wednesday that temporarily halts evictions of small business and nonprofit tenants in the City of Seattle. The order’s temporary moratorium on small business and nonprofit tenant evictions is effective immediately for any action related to the non-payment of rent or due to the expiration of the lease’s term during the moratorium. It will be in effect for at least 60 days or until the termination of the civil emergency declared in the Proclamation of Civil Emergency dated March 3, 2020. The decision to extend the moratorium will be evaluated and determined by the Mayor based on public health needs.
Earlier in the day, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced today that the City will invest an additional $1 million in the City’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, bringing the total new amount of available funding for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 to $2.5 million. Eligible small businesses will receive a grant of up to $10,000 to mitigate revenue lost by COVID-19.
In addition, small businesses in Seattle and King County are now eligible to apply for up to $2 million in low‑interest Small Business Administration (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) to offset economic losses because of reduced revenues caused by the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. With currently $1 billion in loan subsidies available from the federal government, the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) will be offering technical assistance and launching resources to help small businesses apply for SBA loans.
The City of Seattle is one of the first cities in the country to operationalize direct investments in small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Since launching the expanded Small Business Stabilization Fund on Thursday, March 12, the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has seen an unprecedented influx in applications. As of 12 p.m. on March 17, OED received over 3,300 applications, with approximately 1,800 eligible applications currently under review.
White House Coronavirus Plan Could Send $2,000 to Many Americans
The Washington Post reports that White House officials are working with congressional Republicans on an emergency stimulus package that could send two $1,000 checks to many Americans and also devote $300 billion towards helping small businesses avoid mass layoffs, according to two senior administration officials and a Treasury Department fact sheet.
US and Canada Closing Border to Nonessential Travel
The U.S. and Canada have agreed to temporarily close their shared border to nonessential travel.
President Donald Trump made that announcement Wednesday on Twitter as the two nations work to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump says the decision will not affect the flow of trade between the countries.
Trump writes that “We will be, by mutual consent, temporarily closing our Northern Border with Canada to non-essential traffic.”
Washington Adopts New Guidelines for Unemployment Benefits
Seeking to aid workers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, new federal guidelines from The U.S. Department of Labor allows anyone who has worked at least part-time over the last year to likely qualify for Washington state unemployment benefits.
One of the new federal rules is that someone must meet a minimum of 680 hours worked in the last 18 months to have an unemployment claim.
In response, Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) authorized a set of emergency rules to relieve the impacts of COVID-19.
For example, a worker falling ill due to coronavirus can qualify for paid sick leave and unemployment under the emergency rule.
Under Washington emergency rules, workers can qualify for unemployment if an employer shuts down due to quarantine by a public official, due to business slowdown or lack of demand, or if an employer reduces available hours.
It is important for workers to keep in mind that as in normal times, unemployment benefits are not full-wage replacements.
To apply, and for more information on the new unemployment insurance rules visit here.
Durkan Announces Initial $1.1 Million Arts Recovery Package to Support Creative Workers and Arts and Cultural Organizations Impacted by COVID-19
Building on the City’s initial measures to provide financial relief for small businesses, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced $1.1 million in City of Seattle funding to invest directly in creative workers and arts and cultural organizations financially impacted by COVID-19. The investment is a combination of funding strategies designed to help the arts and culture sector through direct grants to organizations and creative workers most impacted by this crisis.
The Mayor’s Arts Recovery Package is composed of two key initiatives:
- $100,000 in immediate relief for artists and creative workers through two private artist relief funds; and
- $1 million Arts Stabilization Fund to invest in arts and cultural /organizations to help mitigate revenue losses due to the moratorium on events and public gatherings.
“Our creative industries are the heartbeat of Seattle, and we know that organizations and workers in this sector have been devastated by this crisis,” Durkan said in a statement.
“Seattle wouldn’t be the city it is today without its musicians, artists, performers and cultural institutions. I want to thank the community for coming together to organize creative solutions during this crisis. By the City contributing $50,000 to the Seattle Artists Relief Fund, which was started by artists for fellow artists, we recognize the best ideas on how to help community come from community,” said Councilmember Tammy J. Morales (District 2, South Seattle and the CID), current chair of the Council’s Arts Committee.
King County Sheriff’s Office Will Not Execute Court Ordered Evictions
Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht continues to make adjustments to our public facing, non-emergency services to increase social distancing, in light of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Sheriff Johanknecht has informed Presiding Superior Court Judge James Rogers that, effective immediately, the King County Sheriff’s Office will not execute court-ordered evictions in King County until further notice.
Commissioned staff assigned to our Civil Unit must be healthy and ready to deploy to other assignments where needed during this emergency.
Further, Sheriff Johanknecht is concerned about those who would be without housing during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“This is no time to be putting vulnerable people and families on the street without shelter” said Sheriff Johanknecht. “I have committed to suspending evictions during this difficult time when we need to embrace our neighbors rather than remove them from their homes.”
Amazon donates $50,000 in supplies for Kent facility in response to COVID-19
Amazon has donated about $50,000 worth of linens, towels, shelf-stable food and other supplies to help King County transform the former Econo-Lodge in Kent into temporary housing for patients in quarantine, isolation and recovery due to Covid-19.
An Amazon delivery truck pulled up at the motel this morning at 1233 Central Avenue North in Kent. King County employees unpacked boxes of bedding and supplies and put together welcome kits for incoming patients.
Trump Administration Looking Into Giving Cash to Americans
President Donald Trump wants the government to send checks to Americans in the next two weeks in an effort to curb the economic cost of the coronavirus outbreak. That’s according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
“We’re looking at sending checks to Americans immediately,” Mnuchin said during a Tuesday morning coronavirus task force press briefing at the White House.
Mnuchin gave no specifics on how much people would receive other than saying millionaires would be exempt from any financial stimulus. He added the Trump administration is looking to begin financial assistance within the next two weeks.
Gov. Jay Inslee has announced a temporary shutdown of restaurants, bars, theaters and clubs as the state fights a coronavirus outbreak. Restaurants will be allowed to have take-out and delivery services, but no in-person dining. Gatherings are also expected to be further limited to 50 people.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the city will provide $5 million in grocery vouchers to families in need during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Vouchers will be mailed out in two $400 installments to 6,250 qualifying households currently enrolled in city-supported child care programs and food assistance programs.
The vouchers can be used at any Safeway in Washington state, and the money will help families purchase food and other household goods.
UW Medicine rolled out a soft launch Monday for drive-thru coronavirus testing, according to UW Medicine spokesperson Susan Gregg. Testing is by appointment only and exclusive to UW Medicine patients exhibiting symptoms.
Testing is located at the UW Medical Center — Northwest Outpatient facility in Seattle’s Northgate neighborhood.
King County Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht announced Monday additional measures to increase social distancing, in light of COVID-19, regarding some of our public facing services.
Effective immediately, the King County Sheriff’s Office will not process any new Concealed Pistol License (CPL) applications. These applications require fingerprinting in close quarters that we do not think is safe for our community members or our employees at this time.
They latest reports from Washington State Department of Health confirms 904 cases of coronavirus in Washington state. 48 deaths are among them.
In his most drastic action yet to limit the spread of COVID-19, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Sunday that he will sign an emergency proclamation to temporarily shut down bars and restaurants and further limit the size of gatherings during the coronavirus outbreak.
Expected to be signed Monday, the order will limit crowds to 50 people or fewer, a decrease from Inslee’s initial ban of gatherings of 250 or more. 50 is the recommended crowd size number from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Restaurants, bars, dance halls, clubs, theaters, health and fitness clubs, and other similar indoor social or recreational venues must cease operations until March 31, 2020. Restaurants will, however, be allowed to have take-out, drive-through and delivery services, but no in-person dining.
King County Executive Dow Constantine also announced a Local Health Order, allowing retail such as groceries, pharmacies, banks, gas stations, hardware stores, shopping centers, to remain open provided they meet certain Public Health directives.
“It is time, right now, for people to assume that they and everyone they meet is infected, to avoid any unnecessary interactions that might lead to further infection, and to wait and monitor to see if they have in fact been infected so that they can isolate and recover without presenting a risk to others,” Constantine said in a statement sent to media.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an emergency order to put into place a temporary moratorium on residential evictions, which will keep Seattle families from losing their homes as a result of impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary moratorium will begin immediately in the City of Seattle for any residential eviction action related to the non-payment of rent. Tenants are required to continue paying their rent if they are able and should work with their landlords on payment plans if they are experiencing financial hardship.
The moratorium suspends residential evictions related to the non-payment or partial payment of rent for 30 days and also prohibits late fees or other charges for late payment of rent. Property owners may not issue “Pay or Vacate” notices for nonpayment of rent during this period nor initiate an eviction action with the courts. The order further directs that action upon existing pay or vacate notices cannot be taken. For tenants who must appear in court, the moratorium should be used as a defense. If a tenant does not appear in court, the court may grant a continuance to allow the matter to be heard at a later date, after the moratorium has lifted.
Columbia City Gallery Temporarily Closed
How to hold events with fewer than 250 people
In King County, an Order from the Health Officer on March 11 prohibited events of fewer than 250 people, unless event organizers take steps to minimize risk of COVID-19. For people who are planning events for fewer than 250 people, take all of these required steps so that your event can be held:
· Precautions for older adults and those with underlying health conditions: Specifically encourage older adults age 60 and above and those with underlying health conditions not to attend the event. Note that CDC recommends that individuals at risk of severe illness should stay at home, avoiding gatherings or other situations of potential exposures, including travel, church attendance, and social events with 10 or more people.
· Social distancing to prevent prolonged close contact. Event organizers should ensure that the event is organized in such way to avoid close contact between people. Close contact is being within 6 feet of someone for about 10 minutes or more.
· Health screening for event organizers including employees and volunteers at event: Have a plan to health screen event organizers, employees and volunteers just prior to participating in the event.
· CDC guidelines identify these key symptoms to watch for: fever, cough and shortness of breath.
· In advance, organizers should discourage attendance for any person who has these symptoms. Throughout event, event organizers should require anyone who has the symptoms to leave.
· Enable strict adherence to hygiene and sanitation protocols at all events. Provide ready access to hand sanitizer and hand sanitizer stations, and actively request participants to abide by personal hygiene recommendations.
· Clean and disinfect setting for the event. Ensure a clean and sanitary environment for the event. Have employees or volunteers ready to disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, desks, and handrails.
Any event—such as weddings, dinner parties, sports team practice, choir concerts, religious services, and office meetings—that have fewer than 250 people and meet all of these requirements can be held. More detailed guidelines are available to help event organizers: http://www.kingcounty.gov/covid/events
Governor Jay Inslee announced the statewide closure of all public and private schools, to begin at 12:01am on March 17, 2020, until 12:00pm on April 24, 2020, unless extended beyond that date.
During closures, students and families in need will have access to meals, and should check their school’s communication channels for information regarding meal availability. Child care will also be made available to families who need it, with priority to children whose parents or primary caretakers are health care workers. The The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction is working closely with districts on contingency planning.
The King County Library System (KCLS) also announced it would be closing all library locations to the public. These closures will remain in effect until at least April 13, or further notice, to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
KCLS joins the library systems of Seattle, Pierce and Snohomish Counties, this decision was made out of the utmost concern for the health, safety and well-being of library patrons, staff and the community.
During the closure, library customers should keep items currently checked out until KCLS reopens or until further notice. All due dates have been automatically extended until April 30 and KCLS is waiving all late fees accrued between March 1 and April 30. Library staff will continue to work while buildings are closed.
Durkan Announces Small Business Fund
Building on measures focused on supporting small businesses, Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan announced a $1.5 million City of Seattle fund to invest directly in small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. The fund is an expansion of the Office of Economic Development’s (OED) Small Business Stabilization Fund, which the Mayor created to support small businesses whose operations were jeopardized by a destabilizing event. Eligible small businesses will receive a grant of up to $10,000 to mitigate revenue lost by COVID-19. Mayor Durkan formally signed an Executive Order to provide immediate relief for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Actions include the ability to defer B&O taxes and utility payments, direct technical assistance with SBA loans, and the creation of the Small Business Recovery Task Force to advise on long-term policy recommendations.
The Mayor’s expanded Small Business Stabilization Fund will focus outreach on historically underserved small businesses who may be overlooked by the federal government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster relief program. To qualify for a grant from the stabilization fund, small businesses must have five employees or less, the owner must be at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, the business must have a physical establishment, and the business must be financially impacted by COVID-19. OED will conduct targeted outreach to small businesses in high displacement areas, as those businesses carry a greater burden in trying to thrive in today’s economy.
With mounting numbers of COVID-19 cases in King County, Seattle Public Libraries announced they’d be closing down all 27 branches effective Friday at 6pm. The closures will extend to at least April 13.
“Decisions like these do not come easy, as it means a temporary loss of access to the in-person learning services and gathering spaces the Library is known for providing to so many in our community,” Marcellus Turner, SPL’s Chief Librarian, said in a statement.
King County Libraries have not yet announced if they’ll follow suit.
SPL”s annoucment was just one on a fast and furious day of pending public closures.
Earlier on Thurday, Gov. Jay Inslee ordered all K-12 schools in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties closed through late April, as the state responds to the spread of the new coronavirus.
The closures are expected to begin on Tuesday March 17 and be in effect through April 24, with students returning to school April 27.
On Wednesday, Public Health- Seattle & King County (PHSKC), under an order from Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin, announced the prohibition of public events with fewer than 250 attendees, unless event organizers can take steps to minimize risk.
Guidelines for event organizers are as follows:
- Older and vulnerable individuals have been encouraged not to attend
- This includes staff, volunteers, and people you serve — will this impact ability to offer services?
- What is your communication plan and how will it reach people whose first language is not English?
- Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
- Can people be a full arm’s-length apart (6 feet is ideal)?
- Do you have verbal and written messages about not having interpersonal contact such as hugs and handshakes?
- Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
- Do you have a process to ensure each person is screened daily prior to arrival?
- Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
- Do you have enough handwashing stations and cleaning supplies?
- How are people getting verbal and written instructions about when and how to wash hands?
- Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
- Is there a schedule to ensure high-touch surfaces are adequately cleaned?
PHSKC says it is working on more specific guidance, especially for faith-based organizations with less than 250 people. Any organization wishing to provide feedback about how the guidelines might potentially impact them, can fill out this survey.
Earlier in the day, Seattle Public Schools announced a district-wide closure beginning Thursday, March 12, and lasting at least two full weeks.
The action came after the district’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported Tuesday, at Aki Kurose Middle School.
“The decision to close the district was extremely difficult. We know that closing our schools will impact our most vulnerable families and we recognize that working families depend on the consistency and predictability of supports and services our schools offer. We are working with partners and the city to determine how to best mitigate the impact closing schools will have on working families,” the District said in a letter sent to families Wednesday afternoon.
The news prompted some Seattle parents to create a Facebook group (SPS Covid 19 School Closure Parent Survival Page) as a place to get information about child care, wrap-around services, and homework during the shutdown.
The SPS closures followed Washington Gov Jay Inslee’s morning announcement that events taking place in King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties with more than 250 people would be prohibited by the state.
“This is an unprecedented public health situation and we can’t wait until we’re in the middle of it to slow it down,” Inslee told gathered media. “We’ve got to get ahead of the curve. One main defense is to reduce the interaction of people in our lives.”
Inslee’s emergency order applies to gatherings for social, spiritual and recreational activities. These include but are not limited to: community, civic, public, leisure, faith-based, or sporting events; parades; concerts; festivals; conventions; fundraisers and similar activities.
As of Wednesday morning, the virus had hit King County the hardest out of anywhere in the country, with 24 deaths and 267 people with confirmed cases of COVID-19.
“We recognize this new limitation will impact thousands of people, their plans, and their investments in these events,” Inslee said.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, who attended Wensday’s press conference alongside other local officials, agreed with Inslee’s decision and spoke to its repressions for local business owners.
“I have no doubt that this decision will impact our local economy and community here in Seattle. From the onset, we’ve known that this virus would disproportionally impact vulnerable communities and that the economic effect of our response would disproportionally impact small businesses and workers without a safety net,” said Durkan.
The city has recently taken several measures to help mitigate the ramifications of the outbreak on small businesses, including:
Expanding shelter capacity for our neighbors experiencing homelessness;
Keeping utility services on for the duration of the COVID-19 Civil Emergency; and
Launching an initial recovery package for small businesses to provide immediate relief for establishments impacted by COVID-19.
In a press release, The King County Sheriff’s Office also reminded community members not to call 911 or their non-emergency line to report gatherings of over 250 people.
Those needing to contact someone in relation to a gathering can call the King County Novel Coronavirus call center at 206/477-3977.
Latest updates From Seattle King County Public Health:
- Avoid bringing large groups of people together, and consider postponing events and gatherings.
- Stay home when you are sick. Do not go out in public when you are sick. If you are ill in any way call your doctor’s office first before going in.
King County has set up a special website for local residents to sign up for email alerts on the latest developments with the virus.
King County Public Health has issued the following recommendations:
- Avoid large groups of people.
- Telecommute whenever possible.
- Postpone in-person meetings for the next 3 weeks and/or have them virtually.
- Keep at least 6 feet away from other people when you can.
- Practice excellent personal hygiene:
- Increase frequency of handwashing, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. It may seem like a long time, so try singing “happy birthday” twice to yourself.
- Increase usage of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cough and sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue.
- Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, light switches, smartphones, etc. Regular household cleaners will do the job.
- Stay home when sick.
- Do not go to the emergency room unless it’s essential.
- Over 60 years of age
- With underlying health conditions including include heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes
- With weakened immune systems
- Who are pregnant
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as you can pick up the virus that way.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like doorknobs and countertops. Evidence suggests that disinfectants with 62% to 71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) can “efficiently” inactivate coronaviruses within a minute, though it’s not yet known how the new coronavirus reacts to these products.
- Get the flu shot if you haven’t already! Although the seasonal flu vaccine cannot protect you from COVID-19 directly, you may be more likely to develop severe pneumonia if you contract both diseases simultaneously, The New York Times reported. By avoiding the flu, you may also avoid making a trip to the doctor in the middle of a COVID-19 epidemic, when health care workers may be overwhelmed with other patients.
Travel and illness: People who are traveling should be aware of the impacted countries, and if they become ill after traveling, call a doctor or hospital.
Discrimination based on ethnicity or ancestry will make the situation worse. Having Chinese ancestry — or any other ancestry — does not make a person more vulnerable to this illness. Coronavirus doesn’t recognize race, nationality nor ethnicity.
HELP OUR NEIGHBORS
If you don’t have a computer or a wi-fi connection, how do you get clear information about COVID-19, the coronavirus?
Seattle Information Technology did a study that indicates, despite being a very heavily tech society, there’s still a digital divide, especially in lower income neighborhoods like Southeast Seattle. While nearly every adult/teen has a cell phone, many families do not have a computer/printer or wi-fi connectivity.
Panic and misinformation can be costly to our entire community if people are not receiving accurate information that’s important to all our health and safety.
So, here’s the ask: If you have a neighbor, family member, coworker or friend who needs COVID-19 information in another language or simply doesn’t have access to a computer, ask them if they need a printout and provide it.
Below is the Seattle King County Public Health message in English and eight other languages including two dialects of Chinese.
FROM INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS, UNICEF AND THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION:
Today (3/11/20): from LA Times
“This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus,” WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
Coronaviruses typically cause the common cold, but deadly viruses SARS and MERS were also coronaviruses. Tedros emphasized that countries can still take aggressive steps to beat back the spread of the new coronavirus and believes that united action can effectively combat the spreading illness.
Yesterday (3/10/20): The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC), UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) today issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe. It also advises national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for educational facilities.
In the event of school closures, the guidance includes recommendations to mitigate against the possible negative impacts on children’s learning and wellbeing. This means having solid plans in place to ensure the continuity of learning, including remote learning options such as online education strategies and radio broadcasts of academic content, and access to essential services for all children. These plans should also include necessary steps for the eventual safe reopening of schools.
Where schools remain open, and to make sure that children and their families remain protected and informed, the guidance calls for:
- Providing children with information about how to protect themselves;
- Promoting best handwashing and hygiene practices and providing hygiene supplies;
- Cleaning and disinfecting school buildings, especially water and sanitation facilities; and
- Increasing airflow and ventilation.
The guidance, while specific to countries that have already confirmed the transmission of COVID-19, is still relevant in all other contexts. Education can encourage students to become advocates for disease prevention and control at home, in school, and in their community by talking to others about how to prevent the spread of viruses. Maintaining safe school operations or reopening schools after a closure, requires many considerations, but if done well, can promote public health.
For example, safe school guidelines implemented in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone during the outbreak of Ebola virus disease from 2014 to 2016 helped prevent school-based transmissions of the virus.
UNICEF is urging schools — whether open or helping students through remote learning — to provide students with holistic support. Schools should provide children with vital information on handwashing and other measures to protect themselves and their families; facilitate mental health support; and help to prevent stigma and discrimination by encouraging students to be kind to each other and avoid stereotypes when talking about the virus.