It has been another one of THOSE days!
In the nation’s capital, President Trump declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, freeing up $50 billion that could be directed to state and local governments for response to the outbreak. Trump earlier in the week announced that as of Friday, he would halt all flights from 26 European nations to the U.S., allowing U.S. nationals to return only if they underwent screening and a 14-day self-quarantine upon return.
I am encouraged that members of the House and the Senate, along with Secretary Mnuchin, are working on a bipartisan Coronavirus economic relief proposal. We are all in this together, and together we can get through this.
After the President’s remarks, Governor Inslee expanded the prohibition of gatherings of more than 250 people statewide. In King County our local health officials have previously said smaller gatherings would only be allowed if they met social distancing and sanitary guidelines.
On Thursday, the state legislature approved drawing $200 million from the state's emergency “rainy day” fund for a COVID-19 response. Of the total, $175 million will go to the public health system and the remainder to a dedicated unemployment fund for businesses and workers affected by the new coronavirus.
In addition, the City of Seattle on Thursday announced that libraries, community centers and other public facilities would close temporarily. Retail businesses and service operators such as grocery stores, drug stores, movie theaters, restaurants, and other retail establishments may and should stay open, but have been advised to follow guidance for excellent hygiene, social distancing, and cleaning routines. Retail establishments should follow guidance for retail businesses and service operators. Today, the King County Library System also announced a system-wide closure in effect from 6:00 p.m. today, Friday, March 13th until at least April 13th.
I also want to take a moment to restate that COVID-19 does not discriminate based on race, ethnicity, nationality, language, nor economic situation. Misinformation has created fear and hostility that is impacting many of our communities experiencing inequities, particularly our Chinese and other Asian (and Pacific Islander) communities and unsheltered neighbors.
Let us remember that we are stronger together. King County strives to be a welcoming community for all and condemns the unfounded fear and hostility aimed toward any community.
For more information, here are some helpful links to local and state resources:
- Public Health Seattle – King County updates on the Public Health Insider blog
- Public Health Seattle – King County COVID-19 resource and info page
- Washington State Dept. of Health COVID-19 updates and resources
- Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 resources
With best wishes,
Pete von Reichbauer
King County Councilmember