Fantastic Friday | COVID-19 Updates, Facial Recognition, & Ferries

COVID-19 Update 48

Join me for a Zoom Community Conversation on COVID-19

Please join me for a Zoom Community Conversation on COVID-19 with special guests Senator Liz Lovelett, Representative Alex Ramel, Lauren Jenks with the Washington State Department of Health, and Rick Anderson with the Washington State Department of Commerce.

WHEN: Saturday, March 28th, 9 am-10 am

An RSVP is required to participate in this event: RSVP via Zoom. Please note that we are limited to the first 100 registrants. We ask that you submit your questions in advance through the registration link or to, though this is not required.

You will have the option to join via computer, tablet, or phone. For best results, please download the Zoom app prior to the event.

Community Conversation on COVID-19 graphic

Click the image to RSVP via Zoom.

Stay Home, Stay Healthy

What our state, the nation, and the world are going through is unprecedented. We must minimize the impact of COVID-19 as much as possible and the only known way to do so effectively is to avoid proximity and contact with others.

That’s why all four legislative caucuses supported Gov. Jay Inslee’s recent order to stay healthy by staying at home.

Stay home stay healthy

The order includes a ban on all gatherings. And let me start by saying, I know this is hard, but we have to do it. While you can walk outside on your own, no gatherings in the park. While you can be in close proximity to your own household members, you need to stay at least 6 feet away from anyone with whom you are not currently living. I recognize that this will put a serious damper on personal celebrations and disrupt some incredibly personal events, but this is the sacrifice we are asking everyone to make to slow the spread of this virus.

What is Essential?

The recent executive order closes many businesses, unless they are essential to the healthy functioning of the state. If you don’t know or are unsure of whether your job or business is essential, check out the list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” that will ensure continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security. To clarify status or to petition to be added to the list, please fill out the Essential Business Inquiries online form.

It will be difficult for many, but this decision is essential to control the virus and keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Hunkering down to prevent contagion is leaving much of our workforce out of a job, which is particularly hard for the many people in our state who are self-employed and don’t qualify for regular unemployment insurance. That’s why I support this letter sent to our congressional delegation requesting that the federal government unlock disaster unemployment assistance for the thousands of independent contractors in Washington who are losing work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 Essential Services graphic

A Social Distancing How-To 

Social distancing is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 as the virus is transferred from person to person.

Even if you do not show signs of the virus, you could be a carrier and should practice social distancing whenever possible.

Social Distancing graphic

Social distancing guidelines include:

  • Stay home whenever possible, especially when anyone in your household is sick.
  • Maintain six feet of space between individuals. It’s okay to get fresh air, walk the dog, buy groceries and pick up medications – just maintain six feet of space.
  • Eliminate nonessential trips outside the home. Use telecommute options and avoid public transportation whenever possible.
  • Minimize contact with people, especially nonessential travel and visits with people over the age of 60. Seniors and people with compromised immune systems should stay home whenever possible.
  • Reschedule nonessential social gatherings and travel. While there is a ban on sit-in options at restaurants and bars, delivery and take-out options are still available.
  • Keeping in contact with loved ones remotely. Social distancing should not mean social isolation. Tips on staying mentally healthy during this outbreak.

Thank you for feeding our youth!

Thank you to all our local school districts that are stepping up to continue to provide free school breakfasts and lunches during the coronavirus pandemic!

San Juan SD is passing out around 1,000 meals a week for it’s students. Lopez SD is handing out an average of 80 meals, while Orcas SD is serving 125 meals a day and Anacortes SD is at 250 meals per day. La Conner SD shared 800 meals this week and Bellingham SD served 1,200 meals on Monday alone. Finally, Mount Vernon SD served breakfast and lunch to 1,495 students in one day this week, and are preparing for the need to keep growing.

Check with your local school district to see if they are providing free meals for kids.

COVID-19 HDC Banner

Additional Resources

News on COVID-19 is changing quickly. Stay up to date with the most recent and accurate information with the links below, including where to find public resources, including unemployment, health care, small business support and more.

Official WA state COVID-19 website


HDC COVID-19 centralized resources

Regulating Facial Recognition

One of the most highly-debated topics during the 2020 legislative session was facial recognition. Finally, on the last day of session, the House and Senate reached a compromise on legislation (Senate Bill 6280) to regulate facial recognition technology in Washington.

facial recog

The new law will be one of the first and most comprehensive laws to regulate facial recognition technology in the nation. It prohibits the use of facial recognition technology for ongoing surveillance and limits its use by law enforcement by requiring a search warrant before using the technology, except in emergency situations.

The new law also:

  • Requires regular reporting on use of facial recognition from public agencies;
  • Includes testing for fairness and accuracy as the technology has proven to show biases toward women, people of color, trans/non-binary people, children and seniors;
  • Ensures employees are provided with usage training; and
  • Establishes a task force to study how public agencies should use and deploy facial recognition technology.

Constituent Corner: Ferry Services

I’ve heard from many of you about what the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means for ferry service. I know many, especially those in the San Juans, rely on our state ferries to reach essential services, like groceries and medical care, as well as to commute, and wanted to get you the most up-to-date information possible.

Washington State Ferries has created a website with all the important COVID-19 travel information ferry customers need. This includes the latest answers regarding ticket refunds, vehicle reservations, schedule changes and what WSF is doing to keep employees and customers safe. You can also follow @wsferries on Twitter and Facebook for real-time updates and information.


Huxley College Speaker Series

Huxley College logo

Earlier this year, I participated in the Huxley College of the Environment Speaker Series, which brings guest lecturers to WWU to address topics of environmental concern and is intended to bring together environmentally-minded members of the WWU and Bellingham communities. Back in January, before the 2020 session, I spoke about and answered questions on environmental, resource and climate progress, as well as ongoing goals and challenges for the Salish Sea and our state as a whole. You can now watch that conversation online.

Thank you all for taking to the time to read this week’s Fantastic Friday, and for taking an interest in our progress at the House of Representatives.

Please feel free to reach out to me using the information below, with any questions, inquiries, or concerns you may have.

I am here for you!

All best wishes,

Lekanoff sig

Rep. Debra Lekanoff