Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As I noted in my email update to you last Tuesday, news about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) continues to change hour-by-hour.
Many families and business owners are concerned with staying afloat, being able to pay their bills and care for their family members. There is great concern and anxiety among many citizens as we all try to cope with this crisis. I've received numerous phone calls, emails and other correspondence from concerned citizens and I am working around the clock to respond.
On Thursday, I held a telephone town hall with citizens across the 26th District to discuss the COVID-19 crisis, answer questions and provide resources. Normally, these events are scheduled for one hour. However, there were so many people on the call with lots of questions, that we extended the telephone town hall to 90 minutes.
I've also been involved in conference calls with the governor's office and other lawmakers in which we are briefed on the state's response and are able to provide input in that process. On Sunday, President Trump approved Washington state's major disaster declaration, which clears the way for additional federal assistance. We are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and doing all we can to get additional help.
Stay Home, Stay Healthy order
I'm hearing from constituents today who have questions and concerns about the governor's latest order to help “flatten the curve” on the coronavirus spread. In case you missed it, last night, Gov. Jay Inslee addressed the state of Washington, in which he issued a statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation order. The order is similar to orders that other governors, in places such as California and New York, issued last week.
I have heard from many of you who are very concerned about this order. I understand and share many of your concerns over balancing individual rights and the economy with public safety.
What does this stay-home order mean for me?
- It requires every Washingtonian to stay at home unless they are pursuing an essential activity, such as shopping for groceries, going to a doctor's appointment, or going to work at an “essential business.” To see what the governor defines as an “essential business,” go here.
- It bans ALL gatherings of people for social, spiritual and recreational purposes. This applies to BOTH private and public gatherings. It applies to every type of gathering, including weddings and funerals. This ban takes effect immediately.
- It closes all businesses except essential businesses. Grocery stores, pharmacies, banks and other essential businesses may stay open. Restaurants can continue to offer take-out and delivery. Closings on businesses become effective midnight on March 25 and will remain in effect until midnight, April 8, unless extended beyond that date.
- While some might call this a “shelter in place” order, that's not what this does. It is still safe to go outside using social distancing – keeping at least six-feet apart from others. The grocery stores and other essential businesses will remain open. Gov. Inslee says he expects people to voluntarily comply with the order, but he reserves the ability to enact enforcement measures if residents and businesses do not comply.
- The prohibition does not apply to businesses consisting exclusively of employees or contractors performing business activities at their home or residence, and who do not engage in in-person contact with clients. Businesses teleworking are encouraged to continue that practice.
- If the function of your business is not included in the governor's list as an essential business or service, but you believe it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, you can to request designation as an essential business. To clarify status or petition to be added to the list, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For information on the governor's authority during an emergency, click here.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources
Many websites are now available to find information about helpful resources. I recommend these three state-operated resource websites:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information and resources | Washington State House Republicans – One of the most comprehensive state websites for information and resources on coronavirus.
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) information and updates | Governor's office – Includes governor's proclamations and latest news.
- 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID 19) | Washington State Department of Health – Provides information about symptoms, testing, confirmed cases and fatalities across the state involving the virus.
We can get through this together
Some really important things to remember:
- Please avoid the impulse to overstock on groceries and supplies. If everyone sticks to their normal buying habits, there will be enough for everyone — including health care workers, first responders, seniors and others who are ill or vulnerable.
- If you feel ill and have symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath, call your doctor first before going to a medical facility. However, if you develop emergency warning signs, such as trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, bluish lips or face, get medical attention immediately. Go here to learn more about COVID-19 symptoms and what to do if they appear.
- If you have someone in your home who is a vulnerable adult, please take extra precautions to protect them and yourself from becoming infected. This includes people with pre-existing health conditions and those who are over the age of 60.
Please stay in touch with my office if you have any questions, comments or concerns, or if you need assistance with state agencies. I am here to help. You'll find my contact information below.
Please stay safe and healthy.