Past COVID-19 Updates

January 4

Governor Inslee announces a one-week extension on statewide restrictions

Gov. Jay Inslee announced a one-week extension of the "Stay Safe–Stay Healthy" proclamation, along with the statewide restrictions imposed. The extension of the statewide restrictions will now expire on Jan. 11, 2021. No changes were made in the proclamation aside from the expiration date.

An updated reopening plan is currently being developed to provide a pathway for businesses and workers impacted by this order to reopen safely. The updated plan will be released next week. 

Read the full proclamation here

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December 17

Unemployment updates

Apply for extended benefits when PEUC expires on Dec. 26 

PEUC is Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and it’s a federal program that expires on Dec. 26. Extended Benefits (EB) and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) are both federally funded programs. Under federal law, there will be fewer available weeks of EB beginning the week of Dec. 13. If you are receiving PUA, that reduction began the week of Nov. 22.  Federal law reduces the number of weeks for both programs. Extended Benefits (EB) changes from 20 to 13 weeks beginning the week of Dec. 13.  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) changes from 46 to 39 weeks beginning the week of Nov. 22. Curious about why this change is occurring? Learn more about benefit extensions.

COVID-19 update: Job search requirements currently optional

Job search requirements are currently suspended for regular and extended unemployment benefits. When the requirements are reinstated, you will need to comply with the job search requirements specific to Extended Benefits. When claiming extended benefits, one must contact at least four employers each week.

 

December 16
 

COVID vaccines arrive in Washington State

The state expects to receive 62,400 doses of vaccine this week. The first doses of vaccine will go to people in Phase 1a. This phase includes high-risk workers in health care settings, high-risk first responders, and patients and staff of long-term care facilities, estimated to be around 500,000 people in Washington. Read more details about phase 1a here.

The federal government has given Washington an estimated total distribution of 222,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of December. Regular weekly shipments should begin in January.

A second pharmaceutical company, Moderna, submitted an EUA application November 30. This application will be reviewed December 17. If the EUA is granted and the Moderna vaccine approved by the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, we should get about 183,800 doses by the end of December as well.

Read the full release from the Washington State Department of Health.

Snohomish County

Several thousand doses of COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Snohomish County this week. The first phase of vaccination against COVID is set to begin shortly. It initially will focus on vaccinating workers who interact with COVID-19 patients in healthcare settings, emergency services workers who encounter patients with COVID-19, and staff and residents at long-term care facilities.

Watch the briefing: https://youtu.be/QSkkpJCHKuA

Or read the transcript: https://www.snohd.org/DocumentCenter/View/5991/transcript-dec-15-2020-briefing?bidId=

Find answers to common COVID vaccine questions

Snohomish Health District LogoHow effective is the COVID-19 vaccine? Is it safe? Who will have the opportunity to get it first?

Answers to those and other frequently asked questions are now available, along with other Snohomish County focused information about the vaccines, at www.snohd.org/covidvaccine

 

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SHD shares information for parents, educators about in-person learning

Some of the most common questions and concerns the Snohomish Health District has received lately are about schools and in-person learning given the current level of COVID-19 spread in Snohomish County. We’d like to share some information specifically for school leadership, staff and teacher, and students and families.

Watch the video to learn more: https://youtu.be/dO02Eq1xD-A

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Washington Healthplanfinder urges customers to act now for health coverage

official logo for Washington Healthplan FinderWashington Healthplanfinder is urging individuals needing 2021 health and dental coverage beginning Jan. 1 that they have less than 12 hours to take action and sign up. Customers wanting coverage that starts Jan.1 must select a plan through Washington Healthplanfinder by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 15.

For those seeking coverage starting Jan. 1, 2021, customers need to enroll in a plan by Dec. 15. Those who enroll after that deadline and before Jan. 15, 2021 will have a coverage start date of Feb. 1, 2021.

Customers with questions should contact the Customer Support Center or reach out to a navigator or broker for assistance. Customers who need to renew their plan for 2021 can sign in to their Washington Healthplanfinder account using the WaPlanfinder Mobile App or on WAHealthplanfinder.org and easily update and renew their coverage. Additionally, some customers may find that they qualify for free or low-cost coverage.

If you would like to meet with a navigator or broker, you can find one in your community by using the WAPlanfinder Mobile App or by visiting WAHealthplanfinder.org. You can also contact Washington Healthplanfinder’s Customer Support Center for assistance at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 855-627-9604. To schedule an appointment online with an Enrollment Center, visit WAHealthplanfinder.org, and select ‘Get Virtual Help’.

Read the full release.

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New online resource shows how you can help fight COVID

There are many useful online resources to learn about COVID-19 and some of the clinical studies taking place across the country. What’s been missing is a one-stop online information portal that pulls together the most current information for people of all groups, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds who want to get involved in fighting the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in coordination with NIH and Operation Warp Speed, has just launched a website called Combat COVID.

This easy-to-navigate portal makes it even easier for you and your loved ones to reach informed decisions about your health and to find out how to help in the fight against COVID-19. Indeed, it shows that no matter your current experience with COVID-19, there are opportunities to get involved to develop vaccines and medicines that will help everyone. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers have already taken this step—but we still need more, so we are seeking your help.

The Combat COVID website, which can also be viewed in Spanish, is organized to guide you to the most relevant information based on your own COVID-19 status:

For more information, red the full blog post.

Header for Combat COVID website by US Dept of Health Human Services

 

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New report focuses on COVID and kids

Close contacts with persons with COVID-19 and gatherings contribute to SARS-CoV-2 infections in children and adolescents. Consistent use of face masks and social distancing continue to be important to prevent COVID-19 spread, according to a report published Dec. 15 in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

A key finding:  Among children and adolescents under 18 in Mississippi, close contact with persons with COVID-19 and gatherings with persons outside the household and lack of consistent mask use in school were most associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, whereas attending school or child care was not.

Steps are being taken to return more children to in-person learning.

For more information, see the full report: https://bit.ly/3oWdUmM

CDC graphic on study of COVID exposure of kids

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Begin your 12 days of giving by shopping local

Still shopping for holiday gifts? Give back to your community by shopping local. You can give the gift of joy to your loved ones while also supporting our economy. What are some of your favorite local shops?

Here are a couple of idea to get you started:

Snohomish Shop Local Support SnoCo - https://www.supportsnoco.com/

Eat Local First

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December 8

Governor Inslee announced today that he is extending the enhanced restrictions on dining and social gatherings another three weeks.  

Current restrictions are now in place until at least January 4, 2021.   Learn more about the announcement here.

The full proclamation is available here.
The full guidance page is available here.

November 30

Washington launches statewide COVID-19 exposure notification tool

Governor Jay Inslee announced a new, statewide COVID-19 exposure notification tool that aims to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The tool, called WA Notify, can be added to smartphones, and will then alert Washington residents if they have spent time near another WA Notify user who later tests positive for COVID-19.   

Developed jointly by Google and Apple, WA Notify has been deployed in 29 languages and uses privacy-preserving technology without collecting or revealing any location or personal data. 

WA Notify is free, completely voluntary, and uses Bluetooth technology to exchange random codes with the phones of other users nearby. It does this without revealing a user’s identity or location. Users who test positive for COVID-19 can enter a verification code provided by public health into WA Notify, so that other users who have been near them within the last 14 days can be anonymously alerted and take appropriate action.

Check the google settings on your phone to see if the app has been added. You can choose to activate it, or if needed, download the app from the Google Play Store.

Working Washington Small Business Grants

Governor Inslee recently announced additional COVID-19 financial support, which includes $50 million for Round 3 of the Working Washington Small Business grants. Details about this grant opportunity, including how to apply for funding, are now posted here on the Department of Commerce’s website.

 

November 16

Governor Inslee issued a travel advisory for Washington (in coordination with California and Oregon) following the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. 

The advisory urges individuals arriving from other states or countries to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, and encourages Washingtonians to stay home or in their region and avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries to help slow the spread of the virus. You can find additional information online here, and you can find Governor Inslee’s travel advisory here.

November 15

Governor Inslee announced further restrictions on gatherings and business.   **Note- Changes for restaurants will take effect Wednesday, November 18 at 12:01 am.    Additional updates will be posted as they become available.  

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COVID cases surging, again

Wear a mask and continue to have fewer, smaller gatherings

Last week the state Department of Health reported 1,047 new COVID cases in a single day, the highest daily number since July. DOH is urging people to continue wearing a mask and to continue having fewer, smaller and safer gatherings and interactions.

With the holidays approaching, the temptations to set aside these basic best practices will be hard to resist but we can all help each other by finding creative ways to maintain our connections with friends and family. Check out the state’s Safer Gatherings page for ideas and tips.

The current statewide rate of diagnosed COVID cases per 100,000 people over two weeks is more than 117. Public health officials say the goal is to be below 25. You can view county numbers on the state’s Risk Assessment Dashboard.

Resources from the Washington State Department of Veteran's Affairs

Our WDVA offers all kinds of resources for veterans and their families, from counseling and employment support to housing and veterans homes. Learn more about what they offer here.

Auburn Virtual Remembrance Ceremony - Learn more

Virtual Veterans Career Fair - Free for veterans and their spouses - Learn more

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers and Health Officer Dr. Chris Spitters shared a plea with the public Tuesday morning to keep up with preventive measures and power through the fatigue of a prolonged pandemic response. 

Executive Somers noted that the virus is spreading in situations that are hard to contain or control, such as gatherings of family or friends inside people’s homes. He acknowledged the hardship of not having these gatherings but urged people to remember that the more people they have contact with, the greater the risk of spreading COVID-19. Watch the briefing hereor read the transcript here.

Governor Inslee announced Western states will review vaccines together

Gov. Jay Inslee announced today that Washington is joining other western states to review the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines when approved by the FDA. This is an added layer of independent expert review that will help build confidence in the vaccine.

This panel of experts, begun by California Gov. Newsom last week, will expand with representatives from Washington, Oregon and Nevada.

"The FDA has made public information about the data required for authorizing a vaccine. That, combined with two independent federal groups, and our own Western States review process, should give the public pretty high confidence on the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine," Inslee said.

For more information, see the full press release.

Flu vaccine now available for uninsured adults at no cost

logo for the Washington State Department of HealthThe state Department of Health is collaborating with Safeway Inc. and Albertsons Companies LLC to offer no-cost influenza (flu) vaccination for uninsured adults over the age of 18 to help prevent flu illness during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials are concerned that the presence of both viruses could put more people in the hospital and strain Washington’s health care system. 

Twenty-three Albertsons and Safeway pharmacies across the state will offer flu vaccine free of charge through June 2021 to uninsured adults. The pharmacies will not charge an administration fee, and no proof of residency or immigration status will be required. 

Find the list of participating locations on the Department of Health's website

Everyone 6 months and older needs a new flu vaccine every year. Young children, pregnant women, people with underlying health conditions, and those aged 65 and older are at high risk of complications from flu illness. 

Adults who have insurance should also get vaccinated now. Flu vaccine for those age 19 and older is covered by most insurance companies and by Medicare and Apple Health (Medicaid). Washington also provides flu vaccine, and all recommended vaccines, at no cost to everyone under the age of 19. 

The effort is a collaboration between Safeway, Albertsons and the Department of Health. 

For help finding a health care provider or vaccine location, and to learn more about flu, visit www.KnockOutFlu.org

Community survey about acceptability of bluetooth technology for COVID-19 exposure notification

Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) are inviting Washington residents ages 18 and over to participate in the Washington COVID-19 and Technology Survey. Survey responses will help the UW and Washington State Department of Health better understand how to us technology to fight the ongoing pandemic. Participation is completely voluntary and responses will be kept confidential. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete and will close at the end of the day on Tuesday, November 10.  For the English version of the survey, click here. For the Spanish version, click here. If you have any questions about the survey or your participation, you can contact the survey team at WaNotifySurvey@uw.edu.

$2 million in COVID relief grants now open for nonprofits

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on nonprofit organizations, with many experiencing increased demand for services and programs while at the same time dealing with disruption of services and programs, cancellation of contracts, funding losses due to canceled fundraisers, reduced donations and other issues affecting staff and volunteer capacity. The impacts are particularly hard on nonprofits led by and serving Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities.

The Washington State Department of Commerce is partnering with Philanthropy Northwest to provide $2 million of relief funding from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act with a focus on community-based nonprofits and Tribal organizations most impacted by COVID-19.

How to apply

Grant applications are due by Nov. 6, 2020. Find all information and application materials here.

Technical or translation assistance for this grant can be provided by contacting community.outreach@commerce.wa.gov.. Commerce’s outreach team will help connect you to someone with assistance.

An online information session will be held in English via Zoom this week:

•    Thursday, Oct. 29, 7 – 8 p.m. PDT

The Zoom conference line is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89880601482

Zoom meeting ID is: 898 8060 1482.

Via phone at 1-253-215-8782.

Working with strategic partners and through experience working with local organizations, Philanthropy NW developed application criteria and will award grants between $25,000 and $50,000, based on the organization’s need. Priority consideration will be given to programs that serve economically vulnerable areas especially in rural, remote and Tribal communities and whose leaders are reflective of the populations they serve. Small organizations and those serving unincorporated areas are encouraged to apply.

Kreidler extends emergency order on coronavirus testing and surprise billing to Nov. 24

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended two emergency orders. His order requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) and his order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically-necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19 are both extended until Nov. 24. 

Kreidler's order waiving cost-sharing applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term limited duration medical plans. The order on surprise billing applies to both in-state and out-of-state laboratories when a provider orders diagnostic testing for COVID-19.

Also, insurers must continue:

  • Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
  • Suspending any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.
  • In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.

Read the full release.  

To help non-filers, IRS sets Nov. 10 as ‘National EIP Registration Day’

The Internal Revenue Service today set Nov. 10 as 'National EIP Registration Day,' as the agency and partners across the country launch a final push to encourage everyone who doesn’t normally file a tax return to register to receive an Economic Impact Payment.

'National EIP Registration Day' will take place just a few days ahead of the extended Nov. 21 registration deadline. This special event will feature support from IRS partner groups inside and outside of the tax community, including those that work with low-income and underserved communities. These groups will help spread the word about the new Nov. 21 deadline and, in some cases, provide special support for people who still need to register for the payments.

The IRS has already sent nearly 9 million letters to people who may be eligible for the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments but don’t normally file a tax return. The letters, along with the special Nov. 10 event, both urge people to use the Non-Filers: Enter Info Here tool, available exclusively on IRS.gov.

Anyone using the Non-Filers tool can speed up the arrival of their payment by choosing to receive it by direct deposit. Those not choosing this option will get a check.

Beginning two weeks after they register, people can track the status of their payment using the Get My Payment tool, available only on IRS.gov.

Childcare help available for essential workers

Your employment situation or position may qualify your family for Snohomish County’s CARES Act funded child care program.

Ensuring Snohomish County can meet the needs of families and workers during COVID is vital to our economy. Allocating CARES Act funds, Snohomish County has formed a Child Care Partnership with YMCA – Snohomish County and Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County to offset costs of full-day care.    The YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs are using the state’s Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers List to determine eligibility.

In addition to the flier being available in English, please find attached PDFs of the flier in:

-    Spanish
- Russian
- Chinese
- Korean
- Vietnamese

The Frequently Asked Questions document (in all six languages) and Child Care Locator Map are additional resources.

Call YMCA of Snohomish County and Boys & Girls Clubs of Snohomish County. For more info: https://bit.ly/2Srkwvf

 

The Washington State Department of Health submitted its interim vaccination plan for COVID-19 vaccine distribution to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by the stated deadline of October 16, 2020.

This plan is Washington state’s response to the request from the CDC for state and territorial health departments to answer questions and outline their preliminary plans for vaccine distribution. It describes how the department will approach the work of planning for and distributing an U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine once available. It also describes how ow crucial lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemic vaccine distribution in 2009 informed our COVID-19 vaccine plan.

Read the full news release.

In a Press Conference Today, Governor Inslee Announced a New Proclamation for Higher Education

Additional safety measures for college students and the larger community will be implemented:

  1. Staff and Students will be required to wear masks in all public areas, and outside if around others. 
  2. There will be no more than two people per sleeping areas. 
  3. No more than 5 people in common areas.
  4. Socially distance and wear masks even with good friends.
  5. Meals on campus—grab and go or single tables.

Colleges will be required to provide isolation and quarantine facilities and students will be charged for this on a sliding scale.

Governor Inslee is asking individuals to take precautions on a personal basis. Wear a mask and social distance. Limit social gatherings and wear masks indoors and out, anytime you are with someone outside your household.  

Check out the state's Safer Gatherings page on the state’s Coronavirus website. The webpage is designed to help people make safe choices during the fall and winter and includes information on alternatives to gatherings, ways to have safer gatherings, and a guide for having conversations with friends and family about gatherings during COVID-19. The Safer Gatherings page includes a safety checklist and information about holiday celebrations during COVID-19. The site launched in English, but a Spanish language site as well as fact sheets about having safer gatherings in several languages will be added soon.

Health District calls on on community for help to curb increasing cases

There are some key takeaways from new cases that staff are asking the community to help mitigate:

  • Approximately 1 in 5 confirmed cases do not respond to Health District staff’s attempts to reach them. It is important to respond to those calls. Public health wants to ensure you are well and taking proper steps to protect yourself and your circles.
  • A growing number of cases are refusing to provide the Health District with names of their close contacts or locations visited while potentially contagious, or employers are hesitating to provide information on their employees. Not only is this a failure to comply with WAC 246-101 and Governor Inslee’s Proclamation (20-25.6), but it severely hampers the Health District’s ability to do contract tracing efforts needed to stop the spread of disease. 
  • The majority of new cases are the result of too many people in close settings, especially without face coverings. Even in limited social gatherings, people should still wear masks when around people outside of their household. People can be contagious up to two days before they start to feel any symptoms. 

“Rather than people worrying about another ‘stay home’ period, it would really be a better use of everyone’s energy and efforts if we limit our social gatherings now and mask up,” said Shawn Frederick, administrative officer for the Snohomish Health District. “If we practice good social distancing and use masks when around people outside of our household, we don’t need to worry about the what-if’s. We absolutely have the ability to control this now with our individual efforts.”

Read the full press release.

Drive-thru testing Oct. 19-23

Drive-thru testing will continue to be this next week at 3900 Broadway. Online registration for appointments is open. Learn more at www.snohd.org/drive-thru-testing.

In addition to the Everett site, the Health District will also be offering testing at the Lynnwood Food Bank on Tuesday, October 20. Appointments will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 5320 176th St SW.

COVID cases rising across all age groups on state's west side

The State Department of Health on Wednesday released the latest statewide situation report on COVID-19 transmission. Report findings include:

  • Transmission is increasing in western Washington and recently plateauing in eastern Washington. The best estimates of the reproductive number (how many new people each COVID-19 patient will infect) were 1.12 in western Washington and 0.94 in eastern Washington as of September 27.
  • Case counts in western Washington are increasing across all age groups and over broad geographic areas. This suggests increases are due to broad community spread, not driven by a single type of activity or setting. Though all age groups are seeing increases, the rising trends among older people are particularly concerning because these groups tend to experience more severe illness.
  • Recent growth in cases is widely distributed across a number of counties. Some larger counties, including Snohomish and King, are seeing steady increases. Several smaller counties, including Skagit, are experiencing increases, though the total number of recent cases remains low.

School and COVID- What to Expect

Read the Snohomish Health District blog for more information

Community Resource Fair Oct. 16-17 in Lynwood and Everett

A Drive-Thru Community Resource Fair is scheduled Friday and Saturday at locations in Lynnwood and Everett.   Get information on important community resources available such as rental assistance programs, voter registration, financial aid, and other COVID-related information. Social distancing will be observed, please be sure to wear a face covering.

State launches site to encourage safer gatherings

This time of year, families and friends will be making choices about whether to gather for celebrations, game days or other seasonal events. Gathering in groups—even with people we know—may spread COVID-19. The more people we interact with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the risk of becoming infected.

COVID-19 case rates are rising again in Snohomish County, and data suggest that’s the result of too many people choosing to gather in close settings, particularly without wearing face coverings.

The safest action, especially if you’re in a high-risk category, is to avoid gatherings and find different ways to celebrate.

The state has launched a  new Safe Gatherings webpage that offers ideas on different ways to celebrate, tips for safer gatherings, and ideas for talking with friends and family about establishing and following ground rules for gatherings this fall and winter.

Insurance Commissioner extends pandemic order through Nov. 13

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order again, directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. His order is in effect until Nov. 13 and requires health insurers to:

  • Continue coverage for providing telehealth via methods including telephone and video chat tools such as Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and Go-to-Meeting. 
  • Cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible. 
  • Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.

For more information, see the full press release.

Governor Inslee announced several updates to Washington's Safe Start reopening plan. The changes seek to align guidance and adjustments to regulations of several industries. Following a spike in COVID cases in July, Inslee announced a pause to the Safe Start reopening plan. With today’s announcement, all 39 counties will remain in their current phases, but the governor’s announcement allows for more activity in some of the phases.

The updated guidance is effective immediately. 

Libraries
These guidelines will align regulations with that of museums, allowing some indoor activity in Phase 2 at 25% capacity.  Read the full guidance here

Youth/Adult Sports
These guidelines will align school related and non-school related sports guidance. Tournaments and crowds are prohibited in counties that aren’t in the low-risk category, but these guidelines will allow more school and non-school sports, both indoor and outdoor, according to a combination of local metrics. These metrics are aligned with state metrics for school opening recommendations. It also provides specific protocols for transportation, group size and facial coverings.   Read the full guidance here

Movie Theaters
These guidelines will allow for occupancy in Phase 2 at 25% and 50% in Phase 3. Theater attendees will be required to maintain a 6 feet social distance between households and to wear facial coverings at all times when not eating and drinking.  Read the full guidance here

Restaurants
These guidelines will move alcohol cutoff from 10 PM to 11 PM for Phases 2 and 3, as well as eliminates the indoor household member restriction for indoor dining. Additionally, the guidelines will allow for the increase of table size to six in Phase 2 and eight in Phase 3.   Read the full guidance here

Wedding Receptions 
These guidelines will increase the total number of wedding reception attendees to 50 in Phase 3.  Read the full guidance here

Retail Events (craft sales shows, etc.)
These guidelines will expand the miscellaneous venues guidance to allow outdoor retail event shows in Phase 3 only, capping attendance to 200 people.   Read the full guidance here

Real Estate
These guidelines will allow for open houses, but limit attendance by the counties' gathering size limit in accordance to their Phase. Read the full guidance here

Outdoor recreation (running/bicycling/etc.)
These guidelines will provide protocols for Phases 2 and 3 for races, bicycle tours and rides, runs, cross country skiing races, biathlons, canoe and kayak races, marathons, cross country running competitions, triathlons, and multi-sport competitions with more than 12 participants.  Read the memo here.  Read the full guidance here

Water Recreation Facilities
This guidance updates the current guidance for water recreational activities and facilities in Modified Phase 1, Phase 2 and Phase 3 counties.  Read the memo here.  Read the full guidance here

 

Governor Inslee's office has released guidance for a safer Halloween.

Tips for a Safer Halloween

  1. Wear a cloth face covering
  2. Avoid confined spaces
  3. Avoid close contact with people outside your household
  4. Wash or sanitize your hands often
  5. Stay home if you are sick or were recently exposed to someone with COVID-19

    Read the full guidelines and suggestions here.

Lost Wages Assistance Program Payments to Arrive this Week

Lost Wages Assistance program payments are now processing - funds should start to reach eligible claimants this week. Payments will be retroactive for all weeks for which the claimant met eligibility requirements. Refer to the Employment Security Department website for details.

Job Search Requirements to Remain Suspended through October 1

The job search requirement of unemployment claimants remains suspended through Oct. 1. The soonest that unemployment claimants must actively seek work is Oct. 4. Claimants may continue to answer “no” to the job search question on weekly claims until the suspension is lifted. Learn more on the job search requirements page.

Funding Available to Support Community Youth Programming

Approximately $9 million in federal CARES Act funding is available to support nonprofit youth programs serving school-age kits and young adults. The Washington State Department of Commerce will partner with School’s Out Washington to distribute the funds. Application instructions may be found at this link. The program is also seeking peer grant reviewers - those interested should complete this form.

Unemployment

No update yet available on expanded unemployment benefits. Although an executive order was signed on August 8th to augment unemployment benefits, claimants will not yet see an increased benefit. Washington State is assessing the Presidential Memorandum. Refer to the Employment Security Department website and social media for developments

Extra step required to submit Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) weekly claim

Claimants receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) should be aware of a recent procedural change. Every week a claim is submitted, the Employment Security Department (ESD) must certify eligibility. ESD will ask claimants to confirm that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work, or unavailable to work for approved COVID-19 reasons as required by federal law. ESD recommends submitting weekly claims through the online eServices interface where the additional questions have been added.

Looking for your next opportunity?

WorkSource is available to help. Refine your skills, learn new ones and land a job with the help of WorkSource’s dedicated experts. Join an online workshop and get virtual help at WorkSourceWA.com. Join a virtual job fair to connect directly with organizations and employers. Explore available opportunities and participate in 1-on-1 chats with representatives from participating organizations. Share your background and experience and get all your questions answered!

Requirement Changes

Updates to "Personal Services" rules require masking of both customer and service provider

Business activity requirements for "Personal Services" applies to cosmetologists, hairstylists, manicurists, tanning salons, makeup and tattoo artists, and other similar categories. New language clarifies that all customers of these businesses must wear a face covering unless directed by a medical professional who says otherwise. That means that certain services such as facials or beard trimmings are no longer permitted.

Recent updates for agricultural events, religious organizations, fitness centers and gatherings

Requirements for religious and faith-based organizations and indoor fitness and training have been updated recently. Requirements for agricultural events were recently announced to apply to livestock and horse exhibitions as well as companion animal shows. An FAQ document was published recently to clarify some details related to gatherings, food and alcohol service and events.

Social Gatherings vs. Business Activity

Social gatherings must not exceed 5 persons in Modified Phases 1 and 2, or 10 persons in Phase 3

A gathering refers to a social setting in which non-household members convene, indoors or outside. Social gatherings are a leading vector of COVID-19; sustained close contact with non-household members is known to be a source of spread.

Business activity is treated differently than social activity

 By contrast, business activity generally refers to commercial activity or organized events. Business activity is limited by a percentage of capacity or a standard for social distancing on their own property. If not in their place of business, then they must abide by the above gathering limits for their respective county. Weddings and funerals, religious organizations and restaurants have specific regulations that take precedence over gathering limits

Need help with your energy bill? Utility payment assistance is available.

If you need assistance in paying your energy bill, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) makes energy payment assistance available to residents of Washington through a network of community action agencies and local municipalities. Visit the state Department of Commerce’s LIHEAP page for information on how to apply.

Puget Sound Energy has an energy assistance program to help residential income qualified customers.

Snohomish County PUD has launched the Community Support Plan to help residential and small business customers struggling to pay their electric and water bills.

CBPP leading outreach effort to help non-filers get their stimulus payments

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) has just released a new analysis on the estimated 12 million people who are at risk of missing out on their Economic Impact Payments (EIP) because they haven’t filed with the IRS.

The analysis reports that 185,000 of those people are Washington state residents. With $1,200 payments for adults and $500 for children, that equals an estimated $179,000,000 in potential payments.

Eligible individuals have until Oct. 15 to file with the IRS to receive their EIP. The CBPP is providing the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) resources to help with outreach to those individuals that may be eligible for EIP but have not yet filed with the IRS.

You can learn more with this flyer.

Department of Health Launches CORONA Survey

The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) launched the Community Recovery-Oriented Needs Assessment, or the CORONA survey. The survey is an effort to assess the behavioral, economic, social, and emotional impacts and the needs of communities across the state as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The CORONA survey results will inform immediate, long-term, and ongoing actions that DOH and local health jurisdictions can take to address the impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on Washingtonians.

In order to appropriately and equitably inform recovery plans at the state and local levels, DOH is requesting residents from across Washington to go to www.wacoronasurvey.com to take part in the survey. (To take the survey by phone, call 855-530-5787—interpreters are available to assist.)

The survey is voluntary and confidential. At the end of the survey, participants will be given the option to provide their name, phone number and/or email address. Each week of the survey, three participants will receive a $100 Amazon.com gift code as a thank you for their time and participation. If you have additional questions about the CORONA Survey, you can call the Washington State Department of Health at 1-800-525-0127.

Health Officer Recommends Remote Learning for Start of School Year in Snohomish County

Dr. Chris Spitters, Health Officer for the Snohomish Health District, today provided a recommendation to Snohomish County public school superintendents and private school administrators that they plan for distance learning for the start of the school year

The ability to safely resume in-person instruction in schools is directly linked to the actions of the community. There are steps we all must take to slow the spread of COVID-19 and create an environment that allows for schools to reopen for on-site learning. These include:
· Wearing a face cover in public
· Maintaining at least six feet of distance from non-household members
· Avoiding gatherings larger than five people from outside of your household, and keeping your social group consistent
    · Staying home and getting tested if you are feeling ill

Insurance Commissioner Extends Two Emergency Orders Related to COVID-19 Testing

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended two emergency orders related to COVID-19 testing.

The emergency order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically-necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is extended until Aug. 27. His order applies to both in-state and out-of-state laboratories, when a provider orders diagnostic testing for COVID-19. His order also encourages health insurers to notify his office if out-of-network laboratories are not publishing cash prices or if they do not accept the published cash price as final payment for COVID-19 diagnostic testing.

The emergency order requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for COVID-19 is also in effect until Aug. 27. In the order, insurers also must continue:
· Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
· Suspending any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19.
    · In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost.

Governor Inslee released a memo providing additional clarity for changes announced on Thursday, July 23, to the Safe Start Washington plan.

As detailed below, the memo includes updates to gatherings, live entertainment, restaurants and taverns, entertainment and recreational centers, card rooms, movie theaters, and weddings and funerals. This memo builds upon guidance released last week.

Additionally, last week Governor Inslee announced the extension of the state’s eviction moratorium (20-19.3) through October 15. This moratorium will continue to support Washingtonians facing financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the extension makes modifications to the prior moratorium, including:

  • Makes minor clarifications to existing restrictions, such as clarifying that law enforcement may serve eviction orders that include findings required by the proclamation.
  • Creates a workgroup to help inform potential changes to the moratorium in the short-term and the long-term, if needed. The workgroup is specifically asked to consider how future extensions could address options to increase rent.

Lastly, today Governor Inslee extended the pause indefinitely on counties moving ahead phases in the Safe Start Washington plan. This extension follows the pause announced earlier this month due to an increase in COVID-19 cases throughout the state.

________

Governor Inslee Places Further Restrictions in Press Conference, July 23.

  • Statewide moratorium on evictions is extended to October 15
  • Masks will be required in all common areas outside of your own home, inside your home if you have tested positive for COVID-19 or have visitors.
  • Movie theaters reduced to 25% occupancy
  • restrictions

The full list of restrictions are linked here.

Governor Inslee Orders Ban on Indoor and Outdoor Music

Due  to circumstances beyond our control, the Stanwood Summer Car Concerts are canceled for July.  We will reevaluate the August concerts closer to the concert dates.

Additional $600 in Federal Benefit for Unemployed Workers Set to End July 25

Unless Congress acts to extend or adjust it, the additional $600 per week in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Program (FPUC) benefits, available under the federal CARES Act, will stop after the week ending Sat., July 25, 2020. FPUC is entirely federally funded and available only at federal discretion. State employment agencies administer the benefits but do not have a say in whether these benefits are extended.  More details here.

Safely Returning to School Will Require Effort, State Says 

The state Department of Health has published a back to school blog post, updating the latest information about efforts to reopen Washington’s classrooms. Among other things, the post explores a report released last week that suggests climbing COVID-19 infection rates and increasing travel by the public are creating unsafe conditions for resuming traditional in-person instruction in the fall.

“We must stop this increase by the end of August in order to reopen schools,” the post said. “We are more likely to be able to reopen schools if we all: 

  • Continue to restrict our travel and the number of people we see socially.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public.
  • Stay six feet or more away from other people.
  • Get a COVID-19 test if you feel sick, even if you don’t have a fever.
  • Stay home if you feel at all under the weather.
  • Wash our hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.”

Read the full post for more information.

Kreidler Extends Emergency Order on Telehealth Coverage for Another 30 Days

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. His order is in effect until Aug. 16 and requires health insurers to:

  • Continue coverage for providing telehealth via methods includingtelephone and video chat tools such as Facetime, FacebookMessenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and Go-to-Meeting.
  • Cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certainother viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit forCOVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
  • Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with nocopay, coinsurance or deductible.

To help free up hospital beds, Kreidler is directing health insurers to waive or expedite prior authorization requirements for home healthcare or long term care facility services to speed up discharging patients who are ready to leave.

For more information please read the Insurance Commissioner’s news release and Tweet

 

Safe Start county advancements remain paused

On July 2, the Department of Health announced a pause on advancing counties from their current Safe Start phase. That pause remains in effect - no counties have advanced within the Safe Start program and will not until the pause is lifted. Find your county’s Safe Start phase and permissible activities within each phase on the Washington State Coronavirus Response website. During Governor Inslee’s July 14 press conference, it was announced that advancements will be paused through July 28.

New business activity guidance issued by the Office of the Governor

Several business activity guidance documents have been updated to reflect changes in understanding of the spread of COVID-19. Live entertainment and bar service were recently discontinued in restaurants and bars. Some construction workers from out-of-state may be subject to quarantine or testing. Film production and agriculture are subject to amended rules related to face coverings, distancing and sanitation

Masking and COVID-19 notification requirements for businesses

As of July 7, businesses are required to demand that all customers and employees comply with the statewide face covering requirement. The statewide order requires that masks be worn inside any building or business open to the public, outdoor public areas when six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained, and other settings. No goods or services are to be furnished to customers not in compliance with statewide face covering requirements. Refer to the original order for a full list of requirements and exceptions for face coverings. Individuals with certain health or medical conditions are excepted and are not required to produce documentation of the condition to be considered exempt. Please be considerate of those unable to wear a mask, they should not be shamed or ridiculed.

Best practices to address unmasked customers detailed

The Office of the Governor has offered best practices for business owners in summary of recent face covering requirements. Anticipating exchanges between businesses and unmasked customers, the document offers some do’s (ask if a medical issue complicates mask use, arrange certain safety accommodations) and don’ts (ask for details or proof of disability or medical condition).  Please be considerate of those unable to wear a mask, they should not be shamed or ridiculed.

Rate of newly-diagnosed cases increasing rapidly

From June 8 to July 8, the rate of newly-diagnosed cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 residents nearly doubled. In that month, the rate increased from 56.8 to 111.9. The state goal is a figure under 25. In the last two weeks, 8,442 new cases were discovered. While testing is steadily increasing, the rate of new cases exceeds the rate of increase in testing. This dramatic increase in new cases has delayed reopening activity under the Safe Start plan.

Leave is available to sick workers or those caring for a sick family member

 Community spread of COVID-19 is increasing statewide. Businesses and workers may wish to prepare for the possibility of illness. Paid Family and Medical Leave is available to workers that require time off to care for themselves or a family member due to a qualifying event, such as a serious health condition (including COVID-19). Workers may use accrued paid sick leave if they are sick, if they are caring for a qualified family member who is sick, if their child’s day care or school is closed for COVID-19 reasons and they need to provide care, or if their workplace is closed by a public official in connection with COVID-19 and the employment relationship isn’t terminated through a layoff. Additionally, the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide employees with additional paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. In cases of documented or probably workplace COVID-19 exposure, affected workers may be eligible for worker’s compensation.

ESD claims center continues to focus on outbound calls through July 19

Inbound calls to the Employment Security Department claims center will continued to be limited through July 19 as agents prioritize outbound calls to resolve complex issues for the longest-waiting customers. Customers can still submit weekly claims online or use the automated telephone system to file a weekly claim at 800-318-8400. Customers may also call the questions hotline for general unemployment questions unrelated to specific claims at 833-572-8400. Visit ESD’s FAQ page for answers to common questions about returning to work.

National Hire a Veteran Day virtual job fair to be held on July 23

On July 23, the Employment Security Department (ESD) will host a National Hire a Veteran Day virtual job fair in collaboration with Worksource Washington and Washington State YesVets. Job seekers can engage with over 40 companies and government agencies looking to hire veterans and chat live with recruiters, all at no cost. Job seekers may register here, and interested employers may contact YesVets to inquire about participation.


 Based on current COVID-19 activity and other metrics, an application for Phase 3 will not be submitted today, June 26th, by Snohomish County officials. A minimum delay of three weeks is anticipated.

Snohomish County Leaders Continue to Monitor COVID - 19 Activity and remain cautiously optimistic about the course of the disease in general. Officials will continue monitoring data in the coming days to determine when to proceed with an application to the Secretary of Health. Read more on the Snohomish Health District website.

Mask Distribution Available to Eligible Residents

The City of Stanwood has received face coverings from Snohomish County and is partnering with the Stanwood-Camano Food Bank and  Community Resource Center of Stanwood Camano to distribute 4,000 face coverings to eligible residents.

The Stanwood-Camano Food Bank will distribute to families, during the client check in process, on food distribution days – Wednesdays from 10 – 3 and Saturdays from 10 – 2. During the first week of July, Saturday distribution will take place on Friday, July 3rd. There will be no distribution on July 4th.

The Community Resource Center will be available to distribute to clients Monday - Thursday,  9am-4pm.

Stanwood Camano Food Bank
27030 102nd Ave NW, Stanwood
 360-629-2789

Community Resource Center of Stanwood Camano
9612 271st St NW, Stanwood
360-629-5257 x 1
resources@crc-sc.org

 

Snohomish Health Officer, Christopher Spitters, has issued a revised order on gatherings and events in Snohomish County. 

NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby DECLARED and ORDERED as follows:
1. All events of 250 or greater attendees are prohibited.
2. Events with fewer than 250 attendees are prohibited unless event organizers take the following steps to minimize risk:
• Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions that may increase the risk of serious COVID-19 are encouraged not to attend (including employees)
• Social distancing recommendations must be met (i.e., people staying 6 feet from each other, aside from momentary and minimal contact at closer distances when
absolutely necessary)
• Employees must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic
• Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees
• Environmental cleaning guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily
or more frequently).
Read the full Order here.

Gov. Inslee, Secretary Wiesman Announce Mandatory Use of Facial Coverings Statewide Effective Friday, June 26 

In a press conference yesterday, Governor. Jay Inslee and Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced an order that mandates the use of cloth face coverings in most public areas. The order takes effect June 26.

Effective Friday, the Washington State Department of Health requires you to wear a cloth face covering in public when you cannot stay six feet (or two meters) away from others. You must wear a face covering in indoor public settings except when you eat, and outdoors when you cannot stay six feet away from others at all times. You do not need to wear a cloth face covering in your home when you are only with people in your household, or when you are alone in your car. You do not need to wear one when you exercise outdoors with plenty of space.

Some people should not wear cloth face coverings:

  • Children under two years of age
  • People who have disabilities that:
  • Prevent them from comfortably wearing or taking off face coverings
  • Prevent them from communicating while wearing face coverings
  • People who have respiratory conditions or breathing trouble
  • People who have been told by a medical, legal, or behavioral health professional not to wear face coverings

Violations of the facial covering directive will be a misdemeanor.

Further, Governor. Inslee announced he will require all Yakima businesses to require customers to wear facial coverings to gain entry to the business.

Snohomish County has officially moves into Phase 2 of reopening, June 05, 2020.