Federal emergency spending package to help combat COVID-19

View this in your browser.

Councilman Dunn Banner
Meeting with officials

Federal emergency spending package to help combat COVID-19

Dear Friends,

Today I had the chance to meet with Vice President Mike Pence, Governor Jay Inslee, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, and members of Washington’s Congressional delegation to discuss federal, state and local efforts to address the COVID-19 outbreak in King County. I am encouraged to see a true show of bipartisanship as leaders from all levels of government come together to respond to this public health emergency. Pence praised the work of Washington state and local leaders, our healthcare professionals, and our first responders for their work on the front lines.

Vice President Pence also made an important announcement: the President plans on signing an emergency spending package tomorrow that will help combat the coronavirus. This package includes $7.8 billion to fight the spread of COVID-19 nationwide and provides significant funding for local governments.

During our meeting, I was able to make an additional request for the Federal Government to design a COVID-19 Response Toolkit for local governments. We cannot foresee how the coronavirus will spread, but it will likely impact multiple communities across the country. As this happens, local governments nationwide will be called upon to lead the COVID-19 response. This toolkit would be an invaluable resource, providing guidance to local leaders as they design the most effective and timely COVID-19 response possible.

Here in King County, the coronavirus situation continues to develop. As of this afternoon, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Washington State has reached 70. This includes 51 cases in King County. Eleven of these individuals have tragically lost their lives.

Governor Jay Inslee announced the state has plans to cover the costs of COVID-19 tests for residents without health insurance. Additionally, State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued an order to Washington health insurers to cover required COVID-19 testing and provider visits without copays or deductibles. That order is in effect through May 4th. You can find out more information here.

While no new public health recommendations have been issued today, previously announced recommendations can help prevent the spread of the disease:

  • People at higher risk of severe illness should stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. This includes people 60 and older; people with underlying health conditions or weakened immune systems; and people who are pregnant
  • Workplaces should enact measures that allow people who can work from home to do so. Taking these measures can help reduce the number of workers who come into contact with COVID-19.
  • If you can feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together, consider postponing events and gatherings.
  • All people should not go out when they are sick.
  • Avoid visiting hospitals, long-term care facilities, or nursing homes to the extent possible. If you need to go, limit your time there and keep six feet away from patients.
  • Public Health is not recommending closing schools at this time unless there has been a confirmed case in the school. However, Public Health respects an individual school’s decisions about closures or postponement of activities.

When to seek medical attention:

  • If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, call your healthcare provider. Isolate yourself and wear a mask before leaving the house.
  • Do not go to the emergency room. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs.
  • If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.
  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you’re a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact our novel coronavirus call center: 206-477-3977, open daily from 8 AM – 7 PM.
  • For general concerns and questions about COVID-19, please call the Washington State Novel Coronavirus Call Center at 800-525-0127.

How to decrease your risk of getting sick:

  • Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.
  • Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system.

I hope all of this information is helpful, and will continue to provide regular updates as more information becomes available. To stay as current as possible, consider subscribing to Public Health’s email alerts or visiting their blog at www.publichealthinsider.com.