Friends and neighbors in the 34th legislative district,
The 2020 legislative session has come to a close! Please keep an eye on your mailboxes for a paper newsletter from each of us, where we’ll share more about the biggest issues we tackled in Olympia this year.
Until then, here’s an update on what’s happening with the COVID-19 outbreak.
To those who have lost loved ones in the last couple weeks: we extend our deepest sympathy.
It is critical that everyone has accurate, up-to-date information about protecting themselves and their loved ones. Following guidance from the Department of Health will help ensure we are doing our best to keep our most vulnerable community members safe.
If you have further questions, please go to the Department of Health website or call their hotline at 1-800-525-0127. Phone lines are currently staffed from 6am to 10pm, 7 days a week. Please note this call center cannot access COVID-19 testing results.
$200 Million for Public Health Response
As we mentioned in last week’s newsletter, we approved additional funding for state agencies, local governments, and federally recognized tribes to respond to the coronavirus. The final amount was $200 million, which goes toward increasing testing and surge capacity, personal protective equipment, local public health call centers, and mitigating impacts to businesses.
Here’s a quick reminder of important things you can do to protect yourself and those around you:
- Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.
- Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces.
- Stay home if you are sick and call your health care provider before you go to a clinic or emergency room.
- Don’t attend large gatherings if you or someone in your home is sick. Governor Inslee has also issued an emergency proclamation prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people.
Additionally, the King County Public Health Department has further guidelines available here.
Make sure you talk to your health care provider, pharmacist and insurance provider about keeping an emergency supply of medications at home if you or someone in your household are on a regular prescription drug regimen to treat specific conditions. The Insurance Commissioner has issued an emergency order requiring insurers to allow a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange has also opened a special enrollment period for individuals without insurance. More details on how to sign up are available here.
School Closure Updates and OSPI Guidance and Resources
Highline School District has announced it will close on Friday, March 13th, with a planned restarting date of April 24th. More information about food services and supplemental learning is available here.
Seattle School District has announced it will close on Friday, March 13th, with a planned restarting date of April 24th. More information about food services and supplemental learning is available here.
Vashon Island School District has announced that it will close on Friday, March 13th, with a planned restarting date of Friday, April 24th. More information about food services, childcare, and supplemental learning is available here.
El Distrito Escolar de Highline cerrará todas las escuelas a partir del viernes, 13 de Marzo al viernes, 24 de abril. Para más información sobre servicios de alimentación y actividades de aprendizaje complementario presione aquí.
El Distrito Escolar de Seattle cerrará todas las escuelas a partir del viernes, 13 de Marzo al viernes, 24 de abril. Para más información sobre servicios de alimentación y actividades de aprendizaje complementario presione aquí y aquí.
El Distrito Escolar de Vashon Island cerrará todas las escuelas a partir del viernes, 13 de Marzo al viernes, 24 de abril. Para más información sobre servicios de alimentación, cuidado infantil, y actividades de aprendizaje complementario presione aquí.
The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has a COVID-19 Guidance & Resources webpage where school districts and parents can find information, as well as a tracker of school closures that includes private schools and higher education institutions.
Support for Workers and Small Businesses
We also want to make sure that these critical preventative measures don’t negatively impact our workers and businesses. The Governor’s office has compiled resources for you to use if your employment has been impacted by the coronavirus.
For workers, more information is available here. Details include:
- Unemployment benefits may be provided for workers whose employer temporarily limits operations when workers need to be quarantined after COVID-19 exposure.
- Unemployment benefits may be provided for workers without paid sick leave who follow public health guidance to isolate themselves after exposure to COVID-19.
- If a worker falls seriously ill and is forced to quit, they may qualify for Paid Family Medical Leave. Once recovered and available for work, they may apply for unemployment benefits.
- The full-time requirement is removed, expanding standby ability to part time workers who are isolated.
For businesses, more information is available here. Details include:
- Assistance from the Department of Revenue for businesses that are unable to file or pay their taxes on time because of COVID-19.
- Export assistance from the Department of Commerce and Small Business Administration.
- Employer assistance from the Employment Security Department.
- Insurance Commissioner support to answer coverage questions for coronavirus-related damages.
We are aware that there has been an issue with testing availability. Previously, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) restricted COVID-19 testing to people with serious respiratory illnesses who had traveled to countries with outbreaks or people who had close contact with someone who tested positive. The CDC has updated these testing guidelines.
The Emergency Order issued by the Insurance Commissioner also requires Washington state health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for anyone requiring testing.
The DOH Testing for COVID-19 page and the UW Medicine Coronavirus page also provide information on testing for coronavirus.
We understand people are frustrated because it’s hard to find clear direction on where to go or how to get tested. We also know that more tests are becoming available and more laboratories, both public and private, may soon be offering more options for testing. We are hopeful that this means the situation will become easier to navigate.
For now, if you have symptoms and believe you should get tested, contact your health care provider. If you don’t have access to a doctor, call a local urgent care clinic.
The DOH site (same as above) also outlines that we don’t have specific medications to treat COVID-19. If you are diagnosed you should follow your healthcare provider’s advice for managing your symptoms.
Gov. Inslee has also announced plans for the state to cover testing for the uninsured, please check back here for more information.
As we stated last week, you can also stay up to date by following the Department of Health online at the various websites and social media channels below:
Thanks for reading, and please take care of yourselves.