Rep. Lekanoff is fighting for the rights and safety for all those that call the 40th LD home. She is bringing her voice to the local, state, and national levels to ensure that our communities are protected.
As clusters of cases continue to appear throughout Washington, remember to keep yourself and each other safe by following guidelines to wear masks, wash your hands frequently, and continue to practice social distancing. Whatcom and Skagit counties are still in Phase 2 of our Safe Start reopening plan, visit the State’s Coronavirus Response website for a refresher on what is and is not permitted in Phase 2, and follow the links below for County-specific updates.
Whatcom County is offering no-cost mobile testing by appointment only, details can be found here. Whatcom Unified Command offers a comprehensive list of resources separated into the following categories:
Skagit County is currently offering drive-through testing for people living or working in Skagit, no one will be turned away for lack of insurance. Information in English and Spanish, please take every precaution and get tested if you are experiencing symptoms.
San Juan County is starting to lift some restrictions on parks and playground operations, but health officials still advise people living on the Islands to remain cautious and follow guidance to socialize outdoors, wash hands, and wear masks. You can find information on where to get tested here and general updates on COVID-19 here.
I am grateful for all of your continued efforts and sacrifices to keep each other safe and prevent further spread of COVID-19. I know this is a difficult time for so many. I believe in Washington and the 40th District, and I know that we will get through this together.
Last week we talked about San Juan County delaying their move into Phase 3 of Governor Inslee’s “Safe Start” program for reopening our state, on the recommendation of San Juan County Health Officer Dr. Frank James.
Earlier this week at a special meeting, Dr. James recommended the county move into a modified phase 3, and the County Council voted 6-1 in favor of Dr. James’ recommendation. The order was finalized and submitted to the state, and Phase 3 can go into effect as soon as approval is granted.
Here is what Dr. James recommended as San Juan looks to move into Phase 3:
The following be allowed in Phase 3.
- Expanding to 75% capacity in eating establishments. However, these people will still need to wear face coverings at all times when they are not eating and seating will need to place people 6 feet apart.
- Museums and Libraries may open safely.
- Gyms and pools can operate at 50% capacity.
- All other businesses can now open except for night clubs, concert venues and large sporting events and other activities specifically reserved for Phase 4 by the Governor.
- Government services that are customerfacing can also open but will be required to provide those services with masks and distancing like other businesses will be required.
- Other activities will need to be restricted further than allowed for in Phase 3 options:
- Groups up to 50 will only be allowed outdoors only (weddings, sport events, summer camp activities)
These elements of Phase 3 NOT go forward at this time:
- Indoor gatherings of more than 5 people and up to 50 people NOT be allowed.
- Table seating of up to 10 people in an eating establishment will NOT be allowed.
- Bar areas in restaurant and taverns will NOT be allowed to open a 25%.
- Theaters will NOT be allowed to open at 50% capacity.
Counties across the state continue to move forward in under the “Safe Start” program of reopening our businesses and economy. As we discussed last week, San Juan, Whatcom, and Skagit counties have all moved into Phase 2!
It’s important that we remain vigilant and maintain social distancing practices like staying six feet apart from one another outside of our homes, wearing cloth face coverings in public, and consistently washing our hands. Phase 2 does provide a number of new opportunities, and allows businesses to reopen after ensuring additional safety precautions are in place.
Phase 2 allows for the following:
- Small social gatherings – inside or outside – are allowed as long as you don’t see more than 5 people in a week who you don’t live with.
- Outdoor recreation like camping is allowed as long as it involves 5 or fewer people from outside your household. (Check with campgrounds and recreation facilities for any additional rules and restrictions.)
- More businesses and services can reopen with restrictions, including remaining manufacturing and construction activity, domestic services such as nannies and house cleaners, retail stores, real estate services, professional services, nail salons, barbers, and pet grooming.
- Restaurants can open at 50% capacity, but without bar seating.
Counties must remain in Phase 2 – that is, maintain current COVID-19 rates – for at least three weeks in order to move into Phase 3.
It is no accident that we are consistently moving forward here in the 40th LD. Through our communities caring about our communities we have curbed the spread of COVID-19 and helped one another. Thank you for all your sacrifice and all that you have done for the good of us all!
In recent weeks, Governor Inslee has issued updated regulations and guidelines for the Safe Start program to reopen our businesses and economy. This week, new limits on restaurants and bars went into effect, limiting the total occupancy allowed and stopping all indoor service in bars. This coming Monday, August 10, new regulations for religious weddings and funerals will go into effect.
Read Governor Inslee’s full memo here.
Just a few days ago, Governor Inslee also announced his recommendations for resuming in-person instruction in public and private schools for the upcoming school year. The new plan follows a similar structure to the Safe Start plan that went on a county-by-county, phased approach, and allows local health departments and school districts to decide how and when to let children back into the classroom.
The recommendation creates a framework for judging the inherent risk of opening our schools, and provides a guide for our local officials to know when it’s time to shift to virtual learning instead. The plan breaks up counties into three categories – High Risk, Moderate Risk, and Low Risk – and gives recommendations based on infection rates.
- High Risk Counties:
- 75 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.
- Governor recommends distance learning and cancelling all in person extracurricular activities.
- Moderate Risk Counties:
- 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.
- Governor recommends distance learning for middle and high school, possible in-person learning options for elementary school, and cancelling all in person extracurricular activities.
- Low Risk Counties:
- Fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over a two-week period.
- Governor recommends hybrid in-person and distance learning for middle and high school, with full-time in person learning for elementary school.
Read Governor Inslee’s full recommendations here.
This is an incredibly delicate decision, and I’m grateful to all of the dedicated local officials who are working tirelessly to ensure that our students and children can receive the education they deserve while maintaining their health and safety.
Last week we talked about Governor Inslee’s statewide mandatory face covering order, requiring every Washingtonian to wear a facial covering when they are out in a public space, either indoor or outdoor. Governor Inslee recently made a new proclamation extending the face covering order, adding additional requirements.
Wearing facial coverings is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and it is something we should all happily do to help protect our loved ones and our neighbors. Under the Governor’s new proclamation, businesses may not serve a customer if the customer is not wearing a mask.
This is an important step that we can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19. Case rates are rising across the state, and that includes here in the 40th. As a result, Governor Inslee has also ordered a pause on advancing counties from their current phase under his “Safe Start” reopening program.
It’s up to all of us to do our part to help our communities through this pandemic. Governor Inslee has done a great job helping Washington in this trying time, and just a few days ago he announced that the state has distributed nearly $365 million in federal funds to help with COVID-19 response and relief efforts
This funding has gone to those who need it most, those who have been hit hardest by COVID-19 and need our support now more than ever. It includes:
- $100 million to provide rent assistance to low-income renters at risk of homelessness, using an existing framework to send rent payments directly to landlords.
- $20 million to provide grants to help small businesses, support for local economic development organizations providing assistance to businesses, and support for data-driven recovery plans by region and industry.
- $20 million to provide operating grants to support nonprofits working to address disparities and inequities exacerbated by increased need and decreased funding due to COVID-19, including a variety of community and youth development programs.
- $20 million to assist Tribes with their pandemic recovery related efforts.
My team and I are always actively tracking COVID-19 developments for the 40th LD on my website – check it out here.
This is a difficult time for so many of us, and it will take self-sacrifice and dedication from all of us to beat COVID-19. I’m confident in the 40th LD, and I’m always honored to be your representative in Olympia. Thank you for all that you’ve done so far to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
As the world continues to grapple with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is up to each of us to do our part to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe.
Governor Jay Inslee issued an Executive Order on February 29, 2020, temporarily closing all non-essential businesses, and encouraging individuals to shelter in place. Though the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” Order has been effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, we must maintain social distancing practices for the foreseeable future.
How to file for unemployment benefits
The state Employment Security Department (ESD) has simplified their website for easier navigation to the pages people need most right now. Apply for unemployment benefits here.
Questions about returning to work? Check out the State’s Employment Security Department FAQs here.