Inslee Announces COVID-19 Financial Support

By The HERALD and Staff Reports

In the United States through 1 pm (PT), there were 12,349,443 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a total of 257,274 deaths. In Washington, through 5:30 pm, another 1,717 coronavirus cases were confirmed in Washington, bringing the total number of diagnoses to 141,260, according to the state Department of Health. At least 9,765 people have been hospitalized in the state due to the virus.

Gov. Jay Inslee announced additional financial support funds for families and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic Friday afternoon.

"We know this pandemic is taking an economic toll," Inslee said during a press conference Friday. "On Sunday we announced $50 million in business supports, but after more discussions with legislators and our agencies, we've agreed on how to more than double that."

In addition to funds announced on Sunday, the total new economic supports amount to $135 million. Included in that total is:

  • $70 million in business support grants.
  • $30 million for the recovery loan program.
  • $20 million for rental assistance.
  • $15 million for energy bills for low-income households.

Included in the $70 million in business support grants is $50 million for a new round of Working Washington grants focused on the hardest-hit industries. The remaining funds will go toward historically disadvantaged businesses who applied for earlier business grants and bolstering Commerce's business resiliency network.

The grants will be allocated first to businesses most impacted by both COVID-19 and the most recent measures taken to address public safety. Equity will also be a priority in making allocation decisions. In addition to the new funds, there will also be separate business support programs coming from local governments.

"This is a significant relief effort," Inslee said. "I can't say it's going to help everyone, but I can say we are not done yet collaborating with our partners to find more funds."

Restaurants Get Help

"We recognize the challenges posed by COVID-19 to our restaurant community, and we're grateful to third party delivery platforms that have made it possible for Washingtonians to continue supporting local restaurants, and allowed many businesses to stay open," Inslee said Thursday.

"However, these are difficult times. We all must sacrifice during these uniquely challenging times to both support our businesses and slow the spread of COVID-19. We encourage Washingtonians to support their local restaurants safely through delivery and take-out options that are available."

The proclamation caps delivery fees at 15 percent and total fees at 18 percent of the purchase price of an order. Third-party delivery platforms have seen increased usage as fewer people are dining indoors this year due to health restrictions and concerns over contracting COVID-19.

The proclamation is similar to measures taken in several cities around Washington. It takes effect Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 12:01 am.

Inslee Urges Congress

to Resume Negotiations

In case you missed it: Gov. Jay Inslee sent a letter Thursday to congressional leadership and the Trump administration, urging an immediate restart to negotiations on another coronavirus relief package that can be passed and signed into law before the end of the year.

The letter reads, in part:

"As the first state in the nation hit by COVID-19, Washington state has aggressively confronted the virus from the beginning of the pandemic, taking difficult but necessary measures to save lives...We do not take these measures lightly. We are painfully aware that these steps, guided by science, will increase hardship for families, workers, and businesses that are already suffering. But we must act now and act quickly to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to save the lives of our fellow Washingtonians.

"The federal government now has a responsibility to act as well. Hundreds of thousands of our residents are already struggling with joblessness, hunger, and housing insecurity, and have watched multiple forms of federal relief expire or be exhausted since the summer. These needs will only grow worse as additional core provisions of the CARES Act are set to expire at the end of 2020, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and existing Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF)."

Inslee calls for a package that includes:

  • Restoration and extension of pandemic unemployment benefits.
  • Additional aid for state, local and tribal governments.
  • Renewal of small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
  • Testing, contact tracing and vaccine distribution funding.
  • Funding for housing and rental assistance, food assistance, schools and broadband.
  • Another round of direct payments to taxpayers and their dependents.

The letter concludes: "Americans will face irreparable harm if small businesses, families, workers, and state and local governments are forced to confront the coming months without immediate federal action. Only Congress can provide the size and scale of relief needed in the moment."