Dear friends and neighbors,
What this quarantine is putting us through hasn’t been easy, but our efforts to stay home are working. This May 7 Seattle Times story, with data from the CDC, shows that we’ve slowed the spread of the virus significantly more than most other states in the nation.
We’ve come this far because the people in this state overwhelmingly acted responsibly—we followed the public health orders and we stayed home when we could. People sacrificed a lot to get us to this point, and we don’t want to go back now. Continuing to follow the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order is critical to protect 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.
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.
We are lucky to live in such a beautiful district and state, with quick access to the great outdoors. As you know, 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:
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.
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.
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.
Face masks are indispensable, which 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. I’ve been so encouraged by their commitment because they are making a difference! You can join them by participating in the Lieutenant Governor’s Washington Mask Challenge. Learn more about how you can make and donate cloth masks here.
Property Tax Relief for Seniors and Veterans
This year, counties are expanding the Senior Citizen and Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption based on legislation we passed in 2019.
Under this new law, in an effort to keep seniors in their own homes, more seniors and veterans with disabilities on fixed incomes are eligible for a property tax exemption.
Click here to see if you qualify.
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.
You will also be able to read the digital copy of the legislative report I mailed in April, in case you did not receive it. That mailer included important information, but I felt there was so much I had to leave out due to lack of space. The fact is, we got 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.
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. Megan, 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.
My best to you and yours,