Yesterday, the King County Council took action on a variety of measures to enhance our response to COVID-19.
1) $28.2 million in funding for COVID-19 response to acquire and set up quarantine sites.
2) A motion that extends the deadlines for proviso and other reports from the Executive so that staff can concentrate on responding to the emergency.
3) A motion that extends King County’s proclamation of emergency, allowing emergency procurement protocols to remain in effect until the emergency ends or the Council acts, whichever comes first. This will avoid delays in necessary spending. The motion also extends the authorization for overtime for county employees as needed.
4) A change to county code that allows King County to accept large donations without prior approval by Council. This will allow the County to quickly apply any donated funding toward its continued response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Also yesterday, Governor Jay Inslee directed nursing homes and assisted living facilities to restrict the number of visitors and to screen workers at the start of their shifts. The County and State Health departments continue to work closely with the CDC to address this virus.
I had the opportunity to meet with officials from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta some years ago.
Governor Inslee also announced the expansion of state policies today to support workers and businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. Here is what we know so far:
• Workers will be able to receive unemployment benefits and employers will get relief of benefit charges if an employer needs to curtail or shut down operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and other workers need to be isolated or quarantined as a result of COVID-19.
• A worker that follows guidance issued by a medical or public health official to isolate or quarantine themselves as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and is not receiving paid sick leave from their employer, may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
• If a worker falls seriously ill and is forced to quit, they may qualify for Paid Family Medical Leave while ill under the existing program. Once recovered and available for work, they may apply for unemployment benefits.
• It removes the full-time requirement and expands standby ability to part time/less than full-time workers who are isolated.
Inslee’s measures went into effect immediately. More details can be found here.
Lastly, this morning, Governor Inslee announced new social distancing measures to restrict gatherings of more than 250 people in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties, a move aimed at blunting the spread of this virus.
At the same time, the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health issued a local order prohibiting events of less than 250 people, unless measures are taken by event organizers to minimize risk.
With best wishes,
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember