COVID-19: Staying safe while reopening Washington's economy

Legislative update from Olympia

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Dear neighbor,

I write to you this week with mixed emotions, sadness and hope. I am sad for our family who lost a wonderful man to COVID-19. Jeff Rigelman, husband to my cousin Louise, lost his fight to the virus early this week leaving behind a hurting but united family and circle of friends. I ask for your prayers for them and for everyone who has lost someone to this horrible disease. We are all hurting from this experience in our own ways.

As for my hopefulness, our state continues a downward trend in deaths and new cases requiring hospitalization. As a result, the governor has updated his Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation by imposing new guidance on elective surgeries and allowing Washington State Parks to begin reopening next week. Additionally, private construction has also been allowed to resume so long as it complies with certain safety and health restrictions.

Right now, we are walking a fine line between keeping Washington residents safe and restarting our economy. I believe these are steps in the right direction to get Washington working again but there are many other areas where we should be moving back to normal. For example, contrary to internet lore, our hospitals and other healthcare facilities are NOT overwhelmed; they are going broke due to lack of patients.  Ironic that we are hurting our healthcare system, perhaps irreparably, in the name of public safety. This is what happens when well-intentioned, top-down, one-size-fits-all approaches outlive their usefulness.  Its time to release some of these decisions to local jurisdictions and medical administrators. Not all wisdom resides in Olympia.

Here is some more information on these proclamation updates:

  • Residential construction. After consulting with the state’s construction industry, the governor began allowing some residential construction in our state late last month. A safety plan was developed as part of a working group that included contractors and workers. The plan includes requirements related to safety training, physical distancing, PPE, sanitation and cleanliness, monitoring employees for symptoms, and logging job site visitors. To learn more, click here.
  • Washington State Parks. Our state parks will begin reopening on May 5. Social distancing will still be required, and camping will now be allowed. The reopening will apply to state parks, wildlife areas, recreation land, and boat launches. Golfing and hunting will also be allowed. To keep you and your loved ones safe while enjoying the great outdoors, the Department of Natural Resources has put guidelines in place for outdoor activities. To learn more, click here.
  • Elective surgeries. Under updated guidelines, hospitals may begin elective procedures by complying with state regulations on personal protective equipment, which includes reporting how much they have available, not reusing equipment and having at least a seven-day supply of equipment on-hand. To learn more, click here.

Small business relief

If goes without saying that this is an uncertain time for our small business owners. Many of you are facing tough choices. Fortunately, there is guidance and resources available through the Small Business Administration, who recently received additional funding from congress to administer emergency and disaster assistance.

They have updated their website to include some new resources for small businesses affected by COVID-19 including:

One of the new temporary programs is the Paycheck Protection Program. This is a loan program is designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses to keep workers on the payroll. The Small Business Administration will forgive the loan if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities. This program will be available for business until June 30, 2020

Additionally, Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants provided by the Washington State Department of Commerce, has provided grants of up to $10,000 each to for-profit businesses with 10 or fewer employees. These grants are funded by the governor’s Working Washington Fund. Based on statewide population, it looks like the Department of Commerce will fund approximately $250,000 in total grants to approximately 30 Skagit businesses.

It’s time to be counted

Every 10 years, The US Census Bureau conducts a Population and Housing census, in which every resident is counted. Your participation is vital! Each year, billions of dollars in federal funding go to hospitals, fire departments, schools, roads, and other resources based on census data. By now, you should have received an invitation to participate. If you haven’t already, be sure to respond to the Census Bureau with your information. Click here to learn more.

Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can assist you in any way.

Like many other businesses, we are teleworking. You can reach me by email at or on my cell at 360-545-2820.

As always, it is a pleasure and an honor to represent you. 



May 1, 2020

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Senator Wagoner...

Once served as a sideboy to President Carter.