Recap of COVID-19 News and Updates from state EOC

The Joint Information Center, State Emergency Operations Center at Camp Murray sent out updates about outdoor activities dos and don'ts,  help for small businesses in keeping employees' health coverage, unemployment claims, increased food benefits and more. 

Numbers: As of 11:59 p.m. April 1, 2020, we have 6,585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington state. For more numbers, visit our coronavirus webpage

The dos and don’ts of outdoor recreation:

As you know, most local, state and federal recreational lands and fisheries are temporarily closed to discourage travel and slow the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, some folks are violating these closures and at the same time, not practicing social distancing. Adventure can wait. The more we can social distance, the sooner we’ll get through this.

You can still get outside for fresh air, but for the safety of you and your loved ones, please follow these guidelines:

Do outdoor activities only with people in your immediate household (not extended families)

Do outdoor activities close by your home, instead of traveling to do them (if you have to take a car, maybe it’s too far)

If you encounter others, maintain a minimum of 6-feet distance

Gatherings of any size are not allowed outdoors, just as they are not allowed indoors, that includes friends getting together to go fishing or hiking.

Unprecedented rise in Washington unemployment claims:

The Employment Security Department (ESD) reported 182,000 new claims for the week ending March 28. This means more and more businesses and employees are following the Stay Home, Stay Health order, but it also mean the virus is having a profoundly negative impact on our economic health. To address this demand, ESD improved its website, increased staff, and expanded call center hours to include Saturday.

Renewal dates extended for health professional licenses:

The Secretary of Health extended expiration dates for licenses of health professionals. The extension is for renewals due between April 1 and September 30, 2020. This extension will allow health professionals to focus on patient care and promote continued patient safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. Because renewal payment won’t be required until September 30, 2020, it will also reduce the economic burden on providers not able to work during this time. More information is available on the License Expiration Extension FAQ web page.

Help for businesses wanting to keep employee health coverage:

The State Office of the Insurance Commissioner has let all health insurers know they have flexibility in defining who is eligible for coverage under the employer-sponsored health plan. If an employer would like to try to keep their employees covered or have other questions, they should reach out directly to their health insurer. Visit the Coronavirus and Health Insurance web page for more information.

New funding to boost benefits for Basic Food recipients:

As of the week of March 30, some Washington residents who receive Basic Food benefits will have additional funds available for March and April 2020. Congress approved extra benefits up to the maximum allowed for each household. In Washington state, this means the Department of Social and Health Services will provide additional benefits to approximately 277,000 households.

Help bust COVID-19 myths:

Read our COVID-19 myth-buster blog  (Spanish version) to help us spread accurate information. And help fight the most damaging myth of all — that Asian Americans are somehow more at risk of having or spreading COVID-19. This is simply not true. The U.S. now has more cases of COVID-19 than any other country, including China. Help bust this myth and protect our communities by fighting stigma and spreading truth. We are all in this together.

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