Dental Update – Coronavirus resources – Rep. Michelle Caldier

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03/19/2020 08:50 AM PDT

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Dear Dental friends,

The legislative session ended last Thursday, March 12. Normally, I would be providing an update on session activities. However, things have changed dramatically over the past week with this coronavirus crisis. So I would like to take this time to provide some essential resources to help you and your patients.

Coronavirus resources — What you should know

There's an enormous amount of uncertainty as news about the coronavirus continues to change hour-by-hour. One of the best central resources for information is on the Washington House Republican website. Please feel free to share this link with everyone you know:

Due to this crisis, dental offices are only open for urgent needs. There is also a statewide shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). The state may be calling on dental offices to contribute their inventory of PPE, especially masks.

Many of these requirements have been mandated by emergency proclamation and executive order from Gov. Jay Inslee. However, he is only legally able to make emergency proclamations for 30 days. After that time, he will need to seek approval of the Legislature. Given the increasing rates of confirmed cases and the extreme contagious nature of COVID-19, I believe restrictions on dental and medical procedures will extend much longer than two weeks.

Dental resources – COVID 19

Financial assistance for employers and small businesses

  • PRESS RELEASE: U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers disaster assistance to Washington small businesses economically impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • SBA FACT SHEET – Economic injury disaster loans – English | Spanish
  • SBA – HOW TO APPLY – The Three Step Process: Disaster loans.

SBA Disaster Relief forms

Coronavirus resources — What you should know

There's an enormous amount of uncertainty as news about the coronavirus continues to change hour-by-hour, as you can see by the number of cases I've charted (see below) between March 7 and March 17.

Here's what we know:

Counties reporting the virus

  • As of this afternoon (March 19), the state Department of Health says there are 1,376 cases of coronavirus in Washington, including 74 deaths. Most of those cases and fatalities are in King County. There are 75 confirmed cases in Pierce County and 12 in Kitsap County. One death of a Puyallup woman has been reported in Pierce County. So far, no fatalities in Kitsap County.
  • You can get the latest information on the location of confirmed cases on the Washington State Department of Health website. Their call center is open 6 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week, and can be reached at 1-800-525-0127.
  • Please keep in mind the statistics I've cited above are confirmed cases. Not everyone is being tested and there are likely many unconfirmed who now have the virus. Due to limited testing, the long incubation period of the virus, and wide range of symptoms people have, the number of those infected is expected to be much higher.
  • Go here to get information from your local health departments and districts.

Dining, entertainment facility closures

  • On Monday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a statewide emergency proclamation to temporarily shut down restaurants, bars and entertainment and recreational facilities. The governor said restaurants will be allowed to provide take-out and delivery services, but no in-person dining will be permitted. The ban will not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies. The ban took effect at midnight Tuesday and will be in place through March 31. For a resource list to help impacted Washington businesses, workers, and citizens, go here.

Social distancing

  • All gatherings with more than 50 participants are now prohibited in Washington. Gatherings with less than 50 participants are also prohibited unless previously announced criteria for public health and social distancing are met. President Trump is advising a much smaller number, saying Monday at a White House news conference, “My administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and public food courts.”

School closures

  • As of March 17, all public and private schools in Washington state are closed. Those closures will continue through Friday, April 24, subject to extension. Get the latest information on school closures from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. All public and private higher education facilities are also prohibited from holding in-person classes statewide.

Statewide resources from the Legislature

  • Last Thursday, the Legislature approved House Bill 2965, which uses $175 million from the rainy day fund for state and local agencies to fight the disease. It also provides $25 million to the newly-created COVID-19 unemployment account. This will allow employers who have employees receiving unemployment insurance benefits due to the virus outbreak to have those charges reimbursed by the state. In addition, the bill will allow the state Board of Education to grant emergency waivers to high school students who won't meet certain graduation requirements if their schools are closed for extended periods.

Unemployment benefits for affected workers

  • Also last Thursday, the state Employment Security Department announced expanded benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19. Go here to see who qualifies.

Financial resources

  • The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has developed a list of financial resources for Washington consumers impacted by COVID-19. Go here to view that list.

Health insurance

  • Health insurers have been ordered to waive deductibles and co-pays for coronavirus testing. You can get more information about how different types of insurance coverage may be affected here. For Washingtonians without health insurance, the Washington Health Benefits Exchange opened a limited-time special enrollment period through April 8. Go here for more information.

Veterans homes

  • Three Spokane Veterans Home residents have been hospitalized and are being tested, and one Spokane Veterans Home staff member is being tested. Two additional residents at the Washington Veterans Home, Port Orchard are being tested. One staff member at the Washington Soldiers Home and one at the Walla Walla Veterans Home are being tested. You can get more information about veterans homes and how they are affected here.

Protect yourself and your family for COVID-19

  • President Trump has issued official Coronavirus Guidelines for America, which asks citizens to take certain steps for the next 15 days to slow the spread of the virus. The Centers for Disease Control has also created a website to help you and your family protect yourselves against this outbreak.

If someone believes they are showing symptoms:

  • If someone has symptoms, they should call their doctor—not go to the hospital. The doctor will make an assessment about next steps. If it requires a COVID-19 test, the doctor will then contact public health officials and they will arrange a test. 
  • The Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public. If you have questions about what is happening in Washington, how the virus is spread, and what to do if you have symptoms, you can call 1-800-525-0127 and press #.

We can get through this

There are rough times ahead. But if we pull together, practice social distancing, and do all the recommended sanitation practices, we will get through this. My office in Olympia stands ready to help. Please don't hesitate to call if you have questions or concerns.

Above all, be safe!


Michelle Caldier

State Representative Michelle Caldier
26th Legislative District
122H Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
360-786-7802 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000