On March 18, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee announced substantial measures for Washington state businesses and workers, as well as renters and other residents who may struggle financially to pay utility bills while dealing with loss of income during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is in addition to the state support for workers and businesses, and the state financial, export, insurance and unemployment assistance that has already been made available.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee unveils an economic relief package to help workers, businesses, tenants, families and more in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Other state and municipal leaders, as well as journalists, also participated remotely to accommodate social distancing. (Office of the Governor Photo)
“These are unprecedented times,” Inslee said. “We must do everything we can to support the resiliency of Washington workers and employers.”
Assistance for renters
Among the measures announced by the governor is a statewide moratorium on evictions of residential tenants for the next 30 days. As Washington faces the economic impacts of COVID-19, no person should be put out of their home as a result.
Residential landlords are prohibited from serving a notice of unlawful detainer for default payment of rent. Residential landlords would also be prohibited from issuing a 20-day notice for unlawful detainer, unless the landlord attaches an affidavit attesting that the action is believed necessary to ensure the health and safety of the tenant or other individuals. Under these measures, law enforcement may not enforce eviction orders based solely on non-payment of rent. This excludes other circumstances, such as the commission of a crime on the premises or nuisance issues.
Additionally, residential landlords would be prohibited from initiating judicial action seeking a writ of restitution involving a dwelling unit if the alleged basis for the writ is the failure of the tenant or tenants to timely pay rent.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his legal team helped craft the proclamation temporarily halting evictions.
“In this public health emergency, it’s important to strengthen our social safety net to protect vulnerable Washingtonians,” Attorney General Bob Ferguson said. “I appreciate Gov. Inslee’s leadership, and the opportunity to work with his team to safeguard Washingtonians from homelessness during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
There was good news from the federal government related to housing today as well. The Federal Housing Finance Agency directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Utility rate payer assistance
Today the governor called on all public utilities in Washington state to ensure the health and safety of their employees and the public by suspending disconnection tariffs for nonpayment during this emergency; waiving late fees for customers who are out of work or offering customers payment plans; and expanding bill assistance programs for customers who are economically impacted by this emergency.
Many utilities in the state have already taken some or all of these steps. That includes Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, and Snohomish Public Utility District, who acted early to address the needs of their customers soon after the outbreak.
“We share the governor’s concern for our community and will be there for our customers throughout this hardship,” said Puget Sound Energy president and CEO Mary Kipp. The governor is also suspending some restrictions on the rate-making authority of the state’s Utilities and Transportation Commission, to enable the use of ratepayer dollars to provide economic assistance to customers who are affected by COVID-19. This provides UTC authority to approve the expanded use of energy bill assistance funds to customers who are out of work, or working significantly reduced hours, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistance for workers
“Washingtonians are already proud of our nation-leading safety net, including mandated paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave and a strong minimum wage. However, in these times we are experiencing a rapidly growing number of workers off the job for lengths time that exceed many workers’ leave benefits, and workers that are not covered by our current safety net,” Inslee said.
The governor today announced a waiver of the one week waiting period to receive unemployment insurance, to get more funds in the pockets of unemployed workers at a time when they need it most. The order is retroactive for claims filed up to March 8, the day of the governor’s first emergency rule expanding unemployment insurance criteria to include more workers impacted by COVID-19.
The governor is also continuing to work with the White House and our congressional delegation to declare a disaster in Washington to become eligible for Disaster Unemployment Assistance. Once established, the state would have the authority to serve impacted Washingtonians who are otherwise not eligible for assistance through our unemployment insurance system.
For individuals out of work due to COVID-19, please click here for more information
Up to $5 million of the Governor’s Strategic Reserve Funds will be made available as small grants to small businesses across the state to help prevent closure due to COVID-19. The state Department of Commerce will coordinate an application process.
“Businesses across our economy are impacted by closures and social distancing requirements right now,” Inslee said. “While taking the necessary precautions to halt this virus, we do not take lightly the impact this has on businesses.”
The governor previously announced the federal Small Business Administration has approved his request for a disaster declaration, and it is anticipated that all counties in the state will be eligible. This approval unlocks low-interest loans that will help small businesses meet their financial obligations and cover operating expenses during this difficult time. Congress recently approved up to $7 billion in SBA disaster loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19. Small businesses can learn more here: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/
Flexibility for tax collections
The Washington State Department of Revenue will have authority to waive suspend penalties and interest on certain late tax payments. The state will create payment plans on the core amount businesses owe without filing tax liens in federal courts. This also means the suspension of enforcement actions such as forced collections by seizing bank accounts.
These measures would be in force for at least 30 days.
These measures waive late filing fees for property tax exemption renewals; business license renewal late fees; and excise tax interest on B&O, real estate sales, and other taxes the department administers, including interest related to tax preferences for biotechnology and medical device manufacturing.
All of these tax-related measures are retroactive to Feb. 29, the date the governor initially declared a state of emergency.
Cash assistance to families
Under the governor’s direction, the state Department of Social and Health Services will expand eligibility for the Family Emergency Assistance Program to include families without children.
Long-term care waivers
The state is doing a number of things to ease pressure on the long-term care system, especially nursing homes. This involves suspending rules around nursing home assessment requirements to allow for faster admissions, and suspending long term care inspections and surveys on particular timelines except in specific circumstances.
Workforce retention and economic development
In coordination with the state Emergency Management team, the governor has asked state cabinet agencies, to be led by the Employment Security Department and the Department of Commerce, to support economic retention, resilience and recovery efforts.
“Many Washington workers are living paycheck to paycheck and need income support now,” said ESD Commissioner Suzi LeVine.
Commerce Director Lisa Brown added: “Looking ahead to the economic recovery phase of this will be our top priority in partnership with the business community.” The scope of the economic impacts of COVID-19 in our state are yet to be fully realized. As resources and tools become available, the latest information can be found here at this link.
Supply chain flexibility
“We are experiencing a tremendous strain on our ability to get our most at-risk individuals the supplies they need, such as hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes,” Inslee said. “Grocers have assured us that if people return to their normal pace of shopping, there is an adequate supply of all the products people need and want.”
To ensure certain goods necessary during this crisis can be delivered in a timely fashion, the governor is waiving restrictions on hours worked for delivery drivers carrying groceries, medical supplies and equipment, pharmaceuticals, fuel and pet food and supplies. However, drivers must have a current safety rating of “satisfactory” and cannot extend their hours if they feel fatigued, ill, or have been on duty for more than the allowed number of consecutive hours.
“We appreciate all the work these delivery drivers are doing under added pressure right now so that Washingtonians can maintain access to goods and services,” Inslee said.
Mental health support
This is a time of stress and anxiety for many Washingtonians. It’s important that people stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing, but that can also feel isolating. The workers in our behavioral health community are ready to help. If you or a family member needs emotional or mental health support, or treatment resources for substance use, please consider calling the Washington Recovery Help Line at 1–866–789–1511.
- Definition of a close contact updated
- 1118 tests performed, still 15 positive results in San Juan County
- What can you do in Phase 2 in the San Juan Islands?
- San Juan County is NOW in Phase 2
- Additional counties approved to move to phase two of Gov. Jay Inslee's Safe Start plan
- Two cases of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) in Washington state
- Letter posted asking state for waiver; Most camping and overnight moorage would not be allowed in the islands in Phase 2
- Happy smiling people hanging about in the Town of Friday Harbor
- $150K of Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants distributed to 21 island businesses
- Updated: San Juan County eligible for a waiver to skip ahead to Phase 2 under new criteria
- Inslee announces restart of all medical services in Washington
- What does the face covering order mean?
- Statewide Report: Distancing measures remain critical as COVID-19 transmission persists
- Update on Face covering order: It's a recommendation until county is in Phase 2, then it's mandatory
- No request made this week to state to skip to Phase 2, Might ask next week
- Directive to wear face coverings begins May 18 in King County
- Inslee issues additional guidance for outdoor recreation in Phase 1 and Phase 2
- Learn about guidance for reopening dine-in restaurants in Phase 2
- Inslee launches Contact Tracing Initiative
- County Health Officer may mandate the wearing of masks in Phase 2
- 3 more counties allowed to skip ahead to Phase 2
- Lopez Island 4th of July Fireworks canceled for 2020
- May 11: San Juan County Council and Board of Health meeting
- Next number report not until Monday, May 11
- Inslee releases more guidance on Phase I
- 5 Washington counties approved for early move to next phase of reopening
- $117K in grants awarded to 4 farms serving Orcas Island
- Anti-body Update from Dr. House
- Island Rec will be offering virtual programs this summer; In-person programs and events canceled
- Update May 15: 972 tests performed, positive count remains at 15
- Here are the 4 steps to apply for a waiver to skip ahead to Phase 2
- Inslee updates Phased Reopening Plan
- Update from state's Joint Information Center
- Health Officer extends order to May 31 keeping lodging and more closed in the San Juan Islands
- How San Juan County compares to 10 counties that might skip ahead to Phase 2; Detailed list of Phases posted
- Gov. extends his order means Memorial Day a bust, 4th of July festivities unlikely
- Inslee clarifies limits on elective surgeries
- AG tells Stine to stop selling and administering his COVID-19 'vaccine'
- UPDATE May 1: No new cases of COVID-19 in the San Juan Islands
- Partial re-opening of some outdoor recreation activities on May 5
- Inslee: $300 million in federal stimulus funding to go to cities and counties of less than 500,000 population
- San Juan Island CF distributes $70k in grants through Community Response Hub
- April 25 and 26 updates from state Joint Information Center: new symptoms listed, new numbers, tips for parents and more...
- Inslee announces plan to allow construction projects previously underway to be completed
- UPDATED April 24: Streak keeps going, 8 days since last positive test result, Count remains at 14
- Working Washington Small Business Grant program gets additional $5 million infusion; $10 million now available to address some of estimated 25,000 applications from businesses up to 10 employees
- Everything you need to know right now about local testing
- Inslee explains his WA state recovery plan
- Help available from Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Island Family Resource Centers
- UPDATED April 22: More good news count still 14 for San Juan County; 594 tested
- Latest from Camp Murray EOC
- Mayor invites 'vaccine' seller to Friday Harbor
- COVID Symptom Tracker app can help slow the spread
- DOH reporting another new case for San Juan County: Total now 15
- UPDATE April 17: No new cases; Positive results in about 3 percent of tests
- COVID-19 survivors may help save lives by donating blood
- DSHS to provide disaster cash assistance for some Washingtonians beginning April 17
- Looking for take-out: there's an app for that
- San Juan Island Community Foundation raised $145k for COVID-19 response
- Ferry reservations for summer postponed
- State EOC's new report: Distancing efforts working and must continue in key Washington counties
- Governors of WA, OR, and CA will coordinate reopening plans
- 3 property tax relief options offered by San Juan County Treasurer
- Voluntary testing of essential folks begins April 13 in Friday Harbor
- DOH adds additional data on confirmed COVID-19 cases
- Dr. James extends lockdown order through May 4
- WSF extends winter sailing schedules through June 20 due to lower demand
- Sheriff has not found a single vacation rental not complying with Gov's order
- Update from state's Joint Operations Center - food, emergency grants for businesses and more...
- More hand sanitizer being produced on Orcas Island
- Essentially an Islander: Ryan Nelson
- WIAA told no sports for the rest of this school year
- UPDATED April 16: One new case; County total 14
- Delivering soon? PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center and Island Hospital Childbirth Centers offer assurance
- April 7: Larsen to host COVID-19 Telephone Town Hall
- Inslee extends school closures for the rest of the 2019-20 school year
- April 4 and 5 Updates from Joint EOC at Camp Murray - face coverings, drivers license expirations and more...
- Two Orcas Island positive cases share details
- UPDATED April 4: FOUR new COVID-19 cases; Count is now 10 in the San Juan Islands
- PIMC offering their patients mobile COVID-19 testing in Friday Harbor
- County recommends 14-day quarantine when returning from the mainland
- Recap of COVID-19 News and Updates from state EOC
- UPDATED April 3: No new COVID-19 positive tests; Count remains at 6 county-wide- including a PIMC staff person
- Governor's Stay Home - Stay Healthy order extended to May 4; More guidance issued
- 2 more COVID-19 cases; 1 on San Juan Island (PIMC staffer), 1 on Orcas Island
- $120K in emergency rental assistance available for San Juan County residents
- DSHS purchases shuttered nursing home in Seattle to free up hospital beds in Western Washington hospitals
- Dr. James and Dr. House working together to find a way to expand testing
- Widespread COVID-19 testing plan nixed by lack of tests
- Medical Surge Planning: Hoping for the Best, Planning for the Worst
- All appts at DOL offices cancelled; Online form to report businesses violating Gov's order
- Stay Home - Healthy guidelines for children and families
- UPDATED April 1: COVID-19 case count is 6 in San Juan County - including a PIMC staff person
- Alchemy Art Center creates opportunities for Creativity at Home
- Property Taxes and COVID-19, from San Juan County Treasurer
- Compass Health providing free, downloadable templates and protocols as part of COVID-19 response
- Hubbard, the first positive COVID 19 case on San Juan Island, shares his experience
- First case of COVID 19 on San Juan Island; County total now 4
- UPDATE: Someone needed to do the research study: Dr. House working to test everyone on San Juan Island
- Message from King's/Marketplace to the community