E-Newsletter: COVID-19 Update: Resources for workers and small businesses

COVID-19 Update

Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you for staying home and staying healthy to slow the spread of COVID-19. While this time has been incredibly challenging, I am deeply proud of the way our communities statewide have come together to help keep each other healthy and safe.

I know that many of you have questions about what’s happening, and what’s next when it comes to this crisis. To help answer those, I want to hear directly from you.

Throughout the interim, I plan to safely connect with constituents over the telephone. After taking a look at our state’s COVID-19 resource pages (see below), you can schedule an appointment with my legislative assistant at: Erika.Odem@leg.wa.gov. I look forward to hearing your questions, comments and concerns.

In the meantime, below you will find resources for small businesses and unemployment benefits to help. I hope you and your families are staying healthy and safe. We are all in this together.

Rep. Zack Hudgins

Schedule

COVID-19 resource websites:

coronavirus.wa.gov
housedemocrats.wa.gov/covid-19


Resources for small businesses and unemployment benefits

The COVID-19 pandemic has intensely affected Washington’s economy across many industries, and has been especially hard on small businesses. Gov. Jay Inslee recently announced additional steps to help small businesses mitigate some of the economic impacts:

  • Business resiliency assistance, through the Washington State Department of Commerce by partnering with organizations that serve economically disadvantaged communities across the state.
  • Forgivable loans, through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Small businesses, non-profits, independent contractors or self-employed individuals in need of financial help may be eligible for a forgivable loan from the SBA. Beginning last Friday, local banks began taking SBA applications and issuing forgivable loans. For more information go to sba.gov.

Update: Employment Security Department

esd logo

Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD) has received an unprecedented flood of applications for assistance and extremely high numbers of phone calls and emails. They are doing the best they can to meet this need by hiring additional staff, expanding service hours and upgrading their technology.

Many people also have questions about the recent federal stimulus package and the enhancements to eligibility and available benefits for individuals. To address your questions and to find out more information, please do not call their toll-free numbers first, instead:

IMPORTANT: ESD officials have said that if an issue can only be resolved by speaking to an agent, to continue calling – even if it must be done repeatedly. Thousands of individuals are getting through by phone every day. The ESD has assured us that regardless of when a person gets through, retroactive payments back to date of eligibility will occur.


Secure Access Washington ID authentication fix

Users with multiple accounts or with accounts set up on old email addresses they can no longer access, would get locked out of the system and required them to call to reset their information. Since getting through over the phone is not easy under current conditions, ESD rolled out a fix to the Secure Access Washington identification authentication system. This fix will make a significant difference for a number of people trying to access the system.


Federal CARES Act implementation

The ESD is preparing for the implementation of federal relief packages included in the CARES Act by upgrading their technology systems. Beginning April 18, ESD can begin accepting applications for the three main elements of the new law:

  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance: expands benefits to those directly impacted by COVID-19 who are not otherwise eligible for Unemployment Insurance in Washington State. This will be available until December 26, 2020 and is retroactive to February 2, 2020.
  • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation: increases the weekly benefit amount by $600 increase for all unemployment assistance recipients (including those already on Unemployment Insurance or participating in SharedWork). It runs until July 25, 2020 and is retroactive to March 29, 2020.
  • Pandemic Emergency Compensation: adds 13 additional weeks of benefits on top of the standard 26 weeks (if needed). It runs until December 26, 2020 and is retroactive to March 29, 2020.

All of these benefits will be retroactively paid from the time people lost their jobs or otherwise became eligible under the federal CARES Act. So, once approved, they will receive a lump sum payment of all benefits that are owed to them at that point. They will then be able to file weekly claims for benefits moving forward.


Independent contractors, self-employed and less than 680 hours

These benefits will expand support for individuals who typically do not qualify for unemployment insurance, such as those who are self-employed, independent contractors and those without enough hours in the previous year. This will make a tremendous difference for many families in our state. The best course of action for those not currently eligible for Unemployment Insurance, is to go to the ESD website and sign up for COVID action alertsThis will be the fastest way to get the most up-to-date information about when and how they can access their benefits.