Friends and Neighbors,
As our community intensifies its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I want you to know that we are going to get through this together. Many people are worried about the impact this outbreak will have on their ability to work, eat, play, go to school, earn a living, and many other aspects of daily life that are now disrupted. I have provided some updated resources below. This newsletter includes updates from the Governor, King County public health officials, and the Mayor as well as new relief measures for workers and small businesses. I continue to update my online blog regularly as news breaks, so you can always go there for the latest updates.
And for the latest from Public Health Seattle-King County you can visit their website to track our region’s response to the virus.
Announcements from Governor Inslee
This week, Governor Jay Inslee announced an immediate two-week closure of all restaurants, bars, and entertainment and recreational facilities throughout the state. Restaurants will be allowed to provide take out service but in-person dining will not be allowed.
Governor Inslee also placed additional limits on large gatherings, now limiting them to less than 50 people. The new orders went into effect on March 16 and will be in place through at least March 31. Here is the link to the Governor’s press conference and more information about social distancing below.
School Closures and Food
Effective March 13, all Washington K-12 public and private schools are closed until April 24. The Governor has asked school districts to continue providing services like childcare and free- and reduced-meals. Please visit Seattle Public Schools for information regarding sites for student lunch support and learning at home. For kids that rely on free- and reduced-meals, they can visit one of the distribution sites below to pick up their meals. Backpack Brigade will also provide additional meals to Eckstein Middle School every Friday.
For individuals who recently lost their job due to coronavirus, please visit the Washington State’s Employment Security Department to apply for unemployment benefits. Please also check this list of financial resources provided by the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
Emergency Relief Legislation from Your City Hall
MORE RELIEF FROM UTILITY BILLS: This week I was pleased to sponsor legislation to waive late fees and interest charges due to Seattle City Light and Seattle Public Utilities for both residential and commercial customers.
“With this public health emergency becoming an economic crisis, all levels of government need to provide immediate financial relief, including for the utility bills that all households, small businesses, and nonprofits face each month. With necessary public health protocols resulting in restaurants, cafes, and other social establishments closing, many of our neighbors are seeing reduced paychecks or layoffs — and the last thing they need to worry about are bills for essentials like electricity, water, and garbage removal,” said City Councilmember Alex Pedersen. “This legislation I sponsored with Mayor Durkan and adopted by the City Council today waives all late fees for these utility bills to provide additional relief for hundreds of thousands throughout Seattle during this crisis,” Pedersen said.
For more information about these financial relief efforts the City is providing, click here.
PREVENTING SMALL BUSINESS AND NONPROFITS FROM EVICTION: The Mayor issued another Emergency Order to prevent evictions – applying the temporary ban to commercial buildings to protect small businesses and nonprofits. For Seattle Times coverage and links to the Mayor’s order, CLICK HERE. The City Council made no changes to the Mayor’s Emergency Order on commercial evictions, so it stays in place for at least 60 days.
For all of our District 4 neighbors who have written or called my office to let me know you are worried about not only your health, but also the financial uncertainty this pandemic has caused, I want you to know that I hear you, and your Mayor and City Council are collaborating during this crisis to provide much-needed relief.
Paid Sick and Safe Time
I recently support expanded Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) for workers. This emergency ordinance would expand PSST to allow parents to use the benefit when schools are closed and they don’t have childcare during — and after — this crisis.
Resources for Small Businesses
In response to COVID-19, this webinar will be held every Wednesday, from 11:00am- 12:00pm. The weekly calls are used to share new developments, hear about the impacts on small businesses, and answer questions from participants. More information and registration can be found here, and here’s a link to additional resources for small businesses.
Both grants and loans are available to Seattle’s small businesses during this public health and economic crisis. Seattle small businesses with five or fewer employees (“microbusinesses”) can now apply for over $2 million in grants from the City’s Office of Economic Development. The deadline to apply is March 25. To apply for the $10,000 grants, CLICK HERE. For Mayor Durkan’s March 18 press release expanding this city grant program, CLICK HERE.
In addition, small businesses (500 or fewer employees) negatively impacted by the coronavirus crisis can apply for “Economic Injury Disaster Loans” from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to“offset economic losses because of reduced revenues.”. To apply for the SBA’s new low-interest loans, CLICK HERE. Small business owners can also call 1-800-659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information.
Bloodworks Northwest is seeking blood donations. To address critical shortages following the COVID-19 pandemic, the donor center is currently operating with extended hours to provide more donation opportunities. Click to sign up online for an appointment. More information and specific hours can be found here.
Social distancing means a lot more time indoors, which can create challenges for our friends at the US Census. Consider using this time to fill out the 2020 Census online. The information you provide ensures we receive adequate government representation and resources, so it’s important you’re counted.
If you have questions about the above resources, or you have concerns about the changes happening in our City, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office at Alex.Pedersen@seattle.gov or by phone at (206) 684-8804. Our City is strong and resilient, and I know with continued collaboration, hard work, and Seattle grit we will get through this together.
Councilmember Alex Pedersen
Seattle City Council, District 4