On Friday the governor released details for a phased opening of Washington state’s economy. We enter Phase 1 tomorrow with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order continuing but several additional business sectors are opening up, including landscaping, auto dealers, curbside retail and others along with construction and outdoor recreation. The governor said he will make a data-driven decision on when to move to Phase 2 in the coming weeks.

Along with other leaders from Spokane, I have advocated for some regional variation on the opening of the economy if it is safe to do so. I was pleased to see that the governor listened and included some regional variation options in his plan. Several smaller counties with no recent COVID-19 cases will be able to go to Phase 2 now and other counties with few COVID-19 cases may have this option sooner than the rest of the state if case numbers stay low.

Please click here to see the full plan.

Getting outside to stay healthy

Bowl and Pitcher area at Riverside State Park.

Outdoor recreation is central to our state’s identity and one of the best things we can do for our physical and mental health. Some outdoor recreation will reopen tomorrow with appropriate safety precautions. It includes day use at state parks and public lands, fishing, hunting and golf. You can read the details on rules and best practices here.

Update on unemployment assistance

If you have filed or will be filing for unemployment insurance because of COVID-19, one thing is certain: you are not alone. The Employment Security Department is seeing a historic increase in claims. Fortunately, Washington was the first state in the nation to implement all three of the major benefit provisions of the federal CARES Act, and ESD has been working around the clock to make this possible. Thanks to their tireless work, nearly $1.5 billion has been paid to impacted workers in our state since the beginning of the crisis.

Thank you to those people who have reached out to my office about delays or confusion surrounding your claims. The good news is that unemployment funds will not run out, and everyone will receive retroactive pay based on the date of their eligibility. Here are a few tips to help the process go as smoothly as possible:

  • Sign up for ESD Covid-19 email updates that will keep you informed of the department’s progress and important news alerts.
  • Make sure you have all the necessary information to apply.
  • If you are self-employed or do not qualify for the regular unemployment insurance, you may qualify for the expanded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from the federal government. Find more information here.

Finally, please do not hesitate to contact my office and we will do our best to help you navigate the process. It is important for me to hear from you about what issues you are facing during this time, so I can represent you effectively as I work with the governor, our state agencies, and our federal delegation to address this crisis and recovery.