On Friday I put together an ambitious “to-do” list for this past weekend, and I am embarrassed to admit it is still intact! :) Below are some updates that came in over the weekend that I wanted to share with you.
WHITE HOUSE DECLARES MAJOR DISASTER IN WASHINGTON STATE
On Sunday, Governor Jay Inslee shared that President Trump had declared a major disaster in Washington as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration grants the state’s request for assistance with crisis counseling and training to address the impact of the outbreak on the mental health of affected Washingtonians. Other disaster assistance programs requested in Inslee’s letter remain under review by the White House, including expanded unemployment assistance and basic food benefits.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION DISASTER RELIEF LOANS
Small businesses across the Pacific Northwest region are eligible to submit an application for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. These loans offer up to $2 million in assistance to help small businesses overcome a temporary loss of revenue. You can apply for a federal disaster loan here and learn more information about requirements and information needed here. Finally, SBA is providing additional financing, exporting and advising resources to support businesses impacted by COVID-19.
METRO FARES DISCONTINUED AND REDUCED SERVICE
King County Metro ended fare collections until further notice effective Saturday, March 21st. Riders are not required to pay fares when riding King County Metro services, including buses, water taxi and Access paratransit, until further notice. Riders also will be directed to board and exit at the rear doors of buses, reserving front-door access for customers using mobility devices or who require use of the boarding ramp. As the new schedule rolls out, buses may be running less frequently, during fewer hours, and be cancelled. Due to this, Metro is encouraging riders to text their bus stop ID # to 62550 to find out when the next bus will arrive. If you need help planning trips, you can also call 206-553-3000 for assistance.
SOUND TRANSIT SUSPENDS FARES
On Friday, Sound Transit announced that they were also suspending fares on all transit modes until further notice. This is to help protect transit employees and riders through social distancing. In addition, ST Express passengers other than riders using mobility devices or the boarding ramp will board and exit buses through rear doors whenever possible. Front areas of buses will be limited to these passengers, increasing separation from operators whose dedication enables Sound Transit to continue service during the COVID-19 crisis.
PLAYGROUNDS AND SPORTS COURTS CLOSED
King County and the City of Seattle announced playgrounds and sports courts are now closed. The closure includes playground equipment, picnic shelters, basketball and tennis courts, ballfields, and other active recreation locations. Playfields, however, remain open for walking and other non-team activities. Parks, natural lands, regional trails, backcountry trails, and beaches where social distancing can be maintained also remain open.
KING COUNTY DONATION WEBSITE
The King County Regional Donations Connector is now available online to link up individuals, businesses, non-profits, and others who have resources with those who need them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Donations Connector will help make sure services, supplies, and funding reach health care providers, first responders, and social service entities working on the front lines. You can find out more by visiting www.kingcounty.gov/emergency/donate.
HARBORVIEW HALL NOW A RECOVERY CENTER
King County has joined with Harborview Medical Center to plan for opening an isolation and recovery center in the county’s Harborview Hall building, located at 326 Ninth Avenue.
Harborview Hall, which is across the street from Harborview Medical Center, will be repurposed to serve as a recovery site primarily for people who do not have a home to rest and recover and who may have other health needs requiring a level of monitoring. This location will offer a very vulnerable population a safe place to recover, with onsite clinical support provided by medical center staff.
GET A PEEK INTO THE KENT QUARANTINE FACILITY
Thanks to a donation of food and supplies from Amazon, King County's Kent quarantine facility will now begin serving community members who can't isolate at home. Our staff produced a video about it. Get a look inside the center here.
TAX DEADLINE MOVED TO JULY 15th
Individual and business taxpayers will have an additional three months to file their taxes this year, as the federal government took more steps to help workers and business owners during the continuing coronavirus crisis. On Friday, President Trump directed the U.S. Treasury to move the filing deadline from April 15 to July 15. Filers will have the additional time to file and make payments without any penalties or fees.
REMINDER: STILL FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS FORMS
The 2020 Census is ongoing during the pandemic. The decennial count of all people residing in the United States is used to allocate public resources over the next decade along with representation in state and federal government.
People are encouraged to respond to the census by mail, phone or online. The more people respond via these options, the fewer workers will be sent out into the field later this year to conduct in-person counts. More information here: https://2020census.gov/.
As we continue to grapple with uncertainty, I am confident in the abilities of all of us to work collectively to get through this crisis. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I am at your service.
With best wishes,
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember