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COVID-19 Update and Information; Paid Sick and Safe Leave Expansion for Public Health Emergency; Your Voice Your Choice Idea Collection Open through March 18

COVID-19 Update and Information

The coronavirus is scary, but it’s important to remember that each of us, individually, can do so much to stop its spread.  These simple actions are the most impactful.  (And thanks to Councilmember Morales’ office for sharing their great graphic!)

I want to preface all this information by noting that things are rapidly evolving and this information is up-to-date as March 13. Things may continue to change and people should continue to check the King County Public Page here for the most up-to-date information.

  • The Governor has also announced that all events with more than 250 people are prohibitedKing County has taken further steps and is prohibiting events with fewer than 250 attendeesunless event organizers take steps to minimize risk including:
    • Older and vulnerable individuals have been encouraged not to attend
    • Recommendations for social distancing and limiting close contact are met
    • Employees or volunteers leading an event are screened for symptoms each day
    • Proper hand washing, sanitation, and cleaning is readily available
    • Environmental cleaning guidelines are followed (e.g., clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily or more frequently)
  • The City is closing all Public Libraries and Community Centers until at least April 13. However, the shower program for those in need at Delridge, Green Lake, Meadowbrook, Miller and Rainier community centers, and all Parks bathrooms and handwashing stations will remain open.
  • The Port of Seattle implemented new protocolsfor safe air travel.
    • “Tourism is one of Washington’s leading economic sectors, supporting tens of thousands of jobs statewide and providing millions in revenue to the region. Between February 2 and March 7 more than 80 flights have been suspended to mainland China while airlines have recently announced reductions and cancellations to Seoul, South Korea, and Hong Kong.”
    • The Port also announcedthat it was canceling the first two cruise ship sailings scheduled for April 1 and April 5.
  • The Washington State Insurance Commissioner has a Q&A page herefor healthcare and insurance related questions.
  • The Washington State Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period through April 8 to qualified individuals who are uninsured. You can learn more here.
  • West Seattle Blog continues to keep a great list of local cancelations, postponements, and changes, you can see that here.
  • No utility shut offs. The Mayor announced this week that both Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities will work with residential and business customers affected by the outbreak to setup payment plans and the utilities will not be shut off. Further customers can fill out a self-certification Utility Discount Program applicationfor more long lasting relief. UDP income thresholds have not changed.
  • $1.5 million for small businesses.Qualifying small businesses should apply online here.
  • The City’s Office of Economic Development is holding a weekly phone call for small businesses impacted by COVID-19, every Wednesday from 1-2pm. Register for upcoming small business phone calls here.
  • Wondering about whether Seattle’s Paid Sick & Safe Time ordinance can help you out if you or someone you love falls sick? Check out this fact sheet.
  • The Council has created a resource page as well which will be kept up-to-date.
  • This website explains some of the resources available to employers and workers impacted by COVID-19.
  • The Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center has a blog post explaining the importance of social distancing, and what it means.
  • United Way of King County has a webpage with resources and information for people who are unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 virus.
  • Also check out this graphic from Washington State Employment Security Department:

City Council Meeting – COVID-19 Update and Paid Sick and Safe Leave Expansion for Public Health Emergency

City Council meetings take place on Monday are at 2 p.m. and are being conducted by telephone. You can view meetings live on the Seattle Channel at http://www.seattlechannel.org/watch-live, or in the meeting archive at http://www.seattlechannel.org/FullCouncil.  Meeting agendas are linked here.   This Monday we will receive a COVID-19 briefing from the Executive.  We will also be voting on legislation to expand Paid Sick and Safe Leave. The legislation would:

“declare an emergency in response to the high number of confirmed cases and deaths in King County and around the world from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and would establish an immediate effective date for an expansion of paid sick and safe time. The expansion would permit use of paid sick and safe time when the employee’s family member’s school or place of care is closed.”

Additionally, I’ll be brining an amendment that would allow employees of large businesses (those with 250 or more employees) to access their current Paid Sick and Safe Time when their employer has reduced operations or closed for any health or safety related reason. This is a measured amendment that allows employees of large companies to access benefits that they already have under the threat of COVID-19. Senator Patty Murray introduced further reaching measure earlier this month legislation that would:

  • Require all employers to allow their workers to gradually earn seven days of paid sick leave.
  • Require all employers to immediately provide an additional 14 days of paid sick leave at the beginning of a public health emergency, including the current COVID-19 crisis.
  • Ensure the leave covers days when a child’s school is close, when an employer is closed, or if a family member is quarantined or isolated due to a public health emergency.

Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass in the senate. Another example is Arizona’s statewide paid sick leave law, which passed in in 2017, specifically cites public health emergency as declared by the Governor.

Your Voice Your Choice Idea Collection Open through March 18

The 2020 Your Voice, Your Choice program is open for idea collection through March 18.

This Department of Neighborhoods program allows community members to democratically decide how to spend $2 million of the City’s budget on these improvements.

Through March 18, community members age 11 and up (13 and up to participate online) who live, work, go to school,  receive services, or participate in activities in Seattle can submit their ideas online. Projects could include park benches, trail improvements, marked crosswalks, and sidewalk repair, to name a few. The only criteria are the project ideas focus on physical improvements to Seattle’s parks or streets, benefit the public, and cost $150,000 or less.

Once ideas are submitted, volunteers are recruited to turn the ideas into 8 – 10 proposals per council district. Then this summer, everyone will have the opportunity to vote for the top projects within their district. Of the $2 million budget, approximately $185,00 is allocated to each council district. The remaining funds are allocated to projects in underrepresented communities or Equity and Environment Initiative (EEI) Focus Areas.  Additional information is at the project webpage.

Projects selected for construction in 2019 are listed here,  and shown on this map. District 1 projects are copied below:

DISTRICT 1

  • Admiral: Crossing Improvements on intersection of SW Admiral Way and 44th Ave SW (Cost: $120,000; Votes received 554)
  • Alki: Calming Improvements on 61st Avenue SW between SW Admiral Way and Beach Drive SW (Cost: $30,000; Votes received: 428
  • Highland Park: Crossing Improvements on 16th Ave SW & SW Holden St (Cost: $30,000, Votes received: 293)*
  • South Delridge: Sidewalk/Trail Improvements on SW Barton St between 21st Ave SW and SW Barton Pl (Cost: $112,700; Votes received: 261)*
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