Safe Start Plan, Food Assistance, Face Masks & Election Year Restrictions

Dear friends and neighbors,

I want to thank you, sincerely, for continuing to follow the stay home order because I know that this is a sacrifice that comes at enormous cost to Washington workers, students, and businesses.

What this quarantine is putting us through hasn’t been easy, but the light at the end of this tunnel is getting slightly brighter. For instance, take this May 7 Seattle Times story with data from the CDC, it shows that we’ve slowed the spread of the virus significantly more than most other states in the nation.  It’s clear our efforts are working and staying the course will be critical to protecting the health of our families and our neighbors, including the most vulnerable among us, so we can reopen our state safely and get everyone back to work as soon as possible.


The Safe Start Plan

Thanks to the great job we’re doing, the state has begun to gradually open following the governor’s data-driven four-phased approach.

SafeStart

Phase 1 began on May 5th. In this phase, we will continue to stay home and limit trips to only essential travel. Some outdoor recreation, including state parks and hiking, have been opened, as well as drive-in religious services.

Every 3 weeks, the Governor’s office and Cabinet will evaluate public health data to determine if we are ready to advance to the next phase. This data includes health care system readiness, testing capacity, contact tracing ability, and risk to vulnerable populations. Over the course of the four phases, our goal is to balance our public health and economic needs.

The metrics and steps in this plan are crucial components to reopening Washington safely, slowly, and thoughtfully. Following the guidelines in the Safe Start plan will help prevent both another peak in COVID-19 infection rates and a further extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. Read more about what each phase includes.


Recreate Responsibly

As you read above, Governor Inslee re-opened fishing, hiking, hunting, and golfing, as long as people maintain social distancing. Here are a few pointers to make sure you are safe and your outing is a great experience:

recreate responsibly

It is more important than ever that we all keep up these best practices so we can stay healthy, continue to open our economy back up safely, and preserve our beautiful environment. Read more about the specifics here.


Food Assistance

Our state, local, and community partners are coming together to coordinate on the fight against hunger. The WA Food Fund will not only help keep our kids fed, but will also help food banks keep their shelves stocked. It’s a collaboration between government, nonprofits, and philanthropies to coordinate food distribution to those in need across the state. Learn more, volunteer or donate by visiting WAFoodFund.org.

If your family is struggling to get enough food, you can apply for food benefits or get help covering the basics by calling 211. Additionally, schools are providing free meals to students. Too often, the only meal a child gets in a day is the one provided by their public school.

lunch green apple

Click on your school district below for information on schedules and locations for student meals:

Aberdeen / Adna / Boistfort
Castle Rock / Chehalis
Cosmopolis / Elma / Evaline
Kelso / Longview
Montesano / Napavine
Naselle Grays River Valley
North River / Oakville
Ocean Beach / Ocosta
Pe Ell / Raymond / Rochester
Satsop / South Bend
Wahkiakum
Willapa Valley / Winlock

Also, there’s a food assistance resources page on the official Washington State COVID-19 website, which includes information on emergency food access.


Washington Mask Challenge

Along with washing your hands and practicing social distancing, please don’t forget to wear a face mask when you’re out and about. There seems to be some confusion as to why this is so important. Here’s the thing, many people are carrying the virus without showing any symptom. So while they feel fine and are unaware that they’ve caught the bug, they can and are infecting others. That’s where the face masks come in. By keeping droplets from getting spread everywhere every time we speak, we are protecting others.

WA wearing mask

The fact that face masks are necessary has gotten people across the state busy sewing cloth masks for organizations that need them most, like nursing homes, shelters, food banks, grocery stores and more. They are making a difference and you can, too, by participating in the Lieutenant Governor’s Washington Mask Challenge. Learn more about how you can make and donate cloth masks here.


Election Year Restrictions

I want to let you know that this is the last e-newsletter you will receive from me until after the November election is certified.  That’s because during an election year, there are certain restrictions to prevent the use of state resources for election purposes. Among those restrictions are a freeze on legislators’ websites and on mass communications, such as e-newsletters.

Because my website will be static, meaning no new content can be added or updated during the freeze, I’ve made sure a lot of useful information is up for you to peruse. For example:

I have a new tab dedicated to COVID-19 resources that includes links to health care sites, resources for children and families as well as for businesses and workers, and even local resources, like cities and school districts within our district.

Blake covid 19 tab

You will also be able to read the digital copy of the report I mailed in April, in case you did not receive it.

As the legislative session was winding down, in early March, the spread of the coronavirus was swelling and demanding attention from everybody, including lawmakers. The report mentioned above included bills I sponsored or that went through my committee but, mostly, it included information on the coronavirus. That’s because, with the situation constantly changing, I felt it was more important to get updates on COVID-19 to you as quickly as I was receiving the information.

However, we did get a lot done this session and I believe you should have the option to read about it, so I prepared this comprehensive report that compiles some of the most significant legislation passed this year.


Blake contact me

Keep in Touch

While I won’t be able to reach out to you over the next few months, I don’t want to stop hearing from you. I’m still your state representative and my office will still be working. Dawn, my Legislative Assistant, and I will continue answering your questions, providing you with information and helping you out in any way we can when you reach out to us either by phone or email. So don’t be a stranger and let me know how you’re doing.

Stay healthy,

blake sigv