Inslee releases details of Safe Start — Washington’s phased reopening by county

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Friday the expansion of Safe Start — Washington’s Phased Reopening plan. The expansion comes as the current Stay Home, Stay Healthy order ends midnight Sunday. The expansion moves Washington through the phased reopening on a county-by-county basis. With this new approach, counties will have more flexibility to demonstrate they can safely…

Total claims for state unemployment benefits decrease from the previous week

During the week of May 17-23, there were 48,445 initial regular unemployment claims, down 65% from the prior week and 1,497,591 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department. ESD said it believes the decrease was in large part due to significant fraud prevention measures that were…

Inslee announces limited outdoor religious services are now allowed

Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday announced the state’s plan for restarting religious and faith-based services for Phases 1 and 2 of Washington’s “Safe Start” reopening plan. Beginning Wednesday, religious and faith-based organizations in Phase 1 counties — including Snohomish — may host up to 100 people for outdoor services. In Phase 2, they can host up…

Snohomish County won’t be ready for Phase 2 reopening June 1, officials say

Snohomish County is not yet ready to move to Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan. June 1 was a possible target date for that, but Snohomish County leaders admitted in a Friday briefing that we are not there. Phase 2 of the Gov. Jay Inslee’s “Safe Start” program would reopen most businesses, including restaurants…

Total claims for state unemployment benefits increased almost 28 percent from previous week — ‘some portion’ likely fraudulent

During the week of May 10-16, the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) reported that Washington residents filed 138,733 initial regular unemployment claims (an increase of 29,308 from the previous week) and 1,670,580 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (an increase of 369,016 from the previous week). ESD believes some portion of the high…

State unemployment rate at 15.4% in April

Washington’s economy lost 527,000 jobs in April and the state’s preliminary seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for April increased from 5.1 percent to 15.4 percent, according to figures released Wednesday by the State Employment Security Department (ESD). “The April jobs report numbers confirm what we already expected based on the record number of individuals who have…

Inslee announces restart of all medical services in Washington

Gov. Jay Inslee Monday announced the state’s plan for all elective procedures to resume. Each medical or dental practice will assess their own readiness and their communities’ COVID-19 activity to determine whether, and to what degree, they will reopen, Inslee said. The proclamation requires that providers: Have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers If…

More than a million workers have now filed for unemployment benefits, other assistance

More than a million workers in Washington have now filed for unemployment benefits or other related assistance since early March, a grim milestone as the state continues to grapple with the unprecedented economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, our online news partner The Seattle Times reports. For the week ending May 9, the Employment Security…

Inslee freezes state hiring, personal service contracts and equipment purchases

Gov. Jay Inslee issued a directive Wednesday to state executive and small cabinet agencies to freeze all hiring, personal service contracts and equipment purchases. The action is aimed at mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Washington’s economy and financial outlook. Exemptions from the directive will be granted if needed for filling vacancies in critical…

Fraudulent COVID-19 unemployment claims on the rise

Both nationally and in Washington state, there have been many reports that scammers are fraudulently applying for COVID-19 unemployment compensation. In addition, reports are surfacing of fake sites being set up to steal claimants’ personal information. The Washington State Employment Security Department says it would never request personal information, such as an individual’s Social Security number, outside…

21st District telephone town hall set for May 6

Legislators from the 21st District — State Sen. Marko Liias and Reps. Strom Peterson and Lillian Ortiz-Self — will host a live telephone town hall this Wednesday, May 6 at 5:30 p.m. They will also be joined by Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. Residents of the 21st District — which includes Edmonds and Lynnwood —…

Inslee signs new COVID-19 order for phased reopening of Washington’s economy

Some businesses could re-open as early as this week under the new COVID-19 order signed by Gov. Jay Inslee Monday. The state’s “Safe Start” plan is a phased approach to re-opening Washington’s economy. Under the plan, smaller counties can apply for a variance from the order which would allow them to open even more businesses…

Inslee extends stay-at-home order through May 31; announces phased approach to reopening

On Friday, May 1, Gov. Jay Inslee and the Washington State Department of Health announced the extension of the governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order through May 31, and also outlined the governor’s phased approach to reopening. At an afternoon news conference, Inslee discussed the phased approach he and public health officials plan to take for…

New claims for unemployment benefits increase as more individuals become eligible

More than 1 in 5 workers in Washington have now sought unemployment benefits during the coronavirus pandemic as the state continues to slide into one of the deepest economic downturns on record. That’s according to a Thursday story from our online news partner The Seattle Times, which noted that on Thursday, the state Employment Security…

Governor launches COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard with data

Gov. Jay Inslee Wednesday announced a new COVID-19 risk assessment dashboard to aid the state in gauging when and how to best lift restrictions around ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy” in Washington. Wednesday marked 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Washington state. The governor mentioned that in the coming weeks, the…

State Commerce Department provides COVID-19 crisis benefits to those in need

The Washington State Department of Commerce last week provided up to $1,000 in rental assistance and up to $500 in energy assistance for households that qualify for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The crisis funding will be distributed through Commerce’s statewide network of community action agencies, and is expected to serve an…

Inslee announces easing of outdoor restrictions

Gov. Jay Inslee announced Monday a partial re-opening of some outdoor recreation activities. “When I rolled out, ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ over a month ago, difficult decisions were made to close state parks and public lands, golf facilities, and delaying hunting and fishing seasons. This was necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19, reduce travel…

Working Washington Small Business Grant program gets additional $5 million infusion

The Washington State Department of Commerce Thursday announced a doubling of funds available to very small businesses impacted by COVID-19 through the Working Washington Small Business emergency grant program. New funds are from the state’s $200 million emergency response fund approved by the Legislature in March. The program launched April 7 with $5 million from…

New claims for state unemployment benefits drop, but remain at record levels

The Washington Employment Security Department says it received more than 82,000 initial claims for unemployment insurance last week, and officials expect many more next week as people apply for expanded benefits under the federal CARES Act. For the week ending April 18, Washington residents filed 82,435 initial claims for unemployment insurance, the department reported Thursday. The…

As more people try filing for expanded unemployment benefits, state asks for patience

The Washington State Employment Security Department said Sunday that it launched a massive update of its computer systems with the goal of ensuring people can successfully file for expanded unemployment benefits enabled by the Federal CARES Act. Tens of thousands of people have already filed successfully, and thousands continue to do so every hour, the…

State recalls 12,000 COVID-19 test kits due to possible contamination

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) said it has recalled approximately 12,000 COVID-19 specimen collection kits that may have quality control issues. On Sunday, DOH said it was alerted by UW Medicine April 17 to discontinue use of a recently-procured batch of COVID-19 specimen collection kits that UW Medicine believed may have a quality…

Washington WIC offers support to pregnant women, new moms and young children during pandemic

During this challenging time, Washington WIC — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — is here to help. WIC gives families access to nutritious foods, nutrition education and breastfeeding support, health assessments and referrals. WIC is for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding moms, infants, and children under 5. These services help diverse…

DSHS to provide disaster cash assistance for some Washingtonians beginning April 17

As of Friday, April 17, some Washington residents can apply through the Department of Social and Health Services for emergency cash assistance to help meet their immediate needs. As a result of Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency declaration in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has approved implementing the Disaster Cash Assistance Program,…