Apr 16, 2020
Washington Governor Jay Inslee Coronavirus Press Briefing Transcript April 16
Washington governor Jay Inslee provided a press briefing on April 16 for COVID-19 in the state. He expanded statewide moratorium on evictions and freezes rent hikes in Washington. Full transcript is here.
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Gov. Jay Inslee: (00:38)
Thank you. Good afternoon. We’ve had some good news today. It’s been confirmed by the President that he will not be interfering with our stay home, stay healthy initiative. He has decided to follow the constitution, which is always a good thing to make sure that we could make our decisions for what is best for Washington here in Washington. So we will continue to make decisions of Washington for Washington by Washington about how we are fighting the COVID-19 virus.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (01:12)
That’s a good thing because Washingtonians have been doing a good job on this. We have bent the curve down. Washingtonians are compliant with their stay home, stay healthy initiative in mass numbers and we are making progress. But as I talked in-depth yesterday, we still have not got on the downward part of this curve where we have to get to we really move to the next stage of this effort.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (01:37)
Unfortunately, we still are at a plateau. We’re working diligently to try to drive that number down and hopefully it’ll be here sooner rather than later. We’re also making good progress in our effort to make sure we have adequate testing and a contact tracing army to respond to any future infections. I talked to the President about that today to encourage him to continue to help us get more test kits and we are hopeful that that will helpful be on the be on the offing.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (02:07)
So we need two things to move forward to the next phase. One, we have to have fewer number of infections and two, we need a much more robust testing and contact tracing organization, which we are making some progress on. So we’re looking forward to both of those happening.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (02:23)
We are fortunate to have inherited the wisdom of our predecessors Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who 85 years ago saw [inaudible 00:02:32] dollars last week in the unemployment insurance claims to 250,000 individuals plus and has put a quarter of $1 billion into the pockets of Washingtonian since March 16. This is the most that has been paid in any week since the program began in the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (02:53)
But we know that there are those who have money coming to them and we’re working diligently to get them to folks. The numbers of new claims are slightly down again this week, but the cumulative growth of these claims has risen significantly. More than half a million applications have been submitted since March.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (03:13)
I’m joined today by Employment Security Commissioner Suzi LeVine who’s been growing her capacity, hiring people like crazy and using new technology to try to accelerate getting these dollars to hard-pressed Washingtonians. And I’m glad that she has been so creative. With that, I’m going to turn this over to Suzi and then we’ll stand for questions. Suzi.
Suzi LeVine: (03:38)
Thank you so much, Governor. Suzi LeVine, Employment Security Department Commissioner. I’m humbled to be here for sure right now, especially. As the Governor shared, we had 143,000 initial claims last week. This is the third highest week on record for initial claims for unemployment. People are abiding by the stay home, stay healthy order and yet they’re experiencing extraordinary economic hardship and we are seeking to resolve that with the work that we do at the Employment Security Department.
Suzi LeVine: (04:09)
A big move will happen this weekend. We’re going to be rolling out the update for the provisions that were included in the Federal Cares Act. These three provisions that are key to unemployment insurance include number one, expanding unemployment insurance eligibility to those who had previously not been eligible. So that includes independent contractors, self-employed workers, and those with fewer than 680 hours.
Suzi LeVine: (04:36)
In addition to that, it will increase the weekly benefit by $600 for anybody on unemployment insurance, including those with the new expanded unemployment assistance that I just described. Those who are currently on unemployment insurance and those participating in a shared work program where businesses have reduced hours, but used unemployment insurance to provide partial wage replacement.
Suzi LeVine: (04:57)
The third key provision that goes into place will be the expansion and the extension of the amount of time somebody can be on unemployment insurance by 13 weeks. So it will go from 26 to 39 weeks if people need it. We will be paying benefits retroactive to the date of eligibility. So in terms of turning this on, we’re going to have on Saturday, an update to our system. We’re going to be doing that update most of the day. Our customer service lines are also going to be off most of the day, but we’re going to be back on and receiving calls this Sunday instead.
Suzi LeVine: (05:33)
Now, what the Governor shared before was that while we have paid out so much into people’s pockets and into the economy, people are still in deep need. And we know that there are hundreds of thousands if not more, who will now be eligible for unemployment assistance and we’re looking forward to this expansion, but I want to do a couple of things.
Suzi LeVine: (05:55)
I want to talk about how people can be better prepared for this because we do know that there is going to be a tsunami of demand for this. Four key things.
Suzi LeVine: (06:04)
First on our website, esd.wa.gov you will find our action alerts. It’s through that we’re going to be providing instructions and information so that you can be better prepared.
Suzi LeVine: (06:16)
Number two, use our eligibility checker. This will allow you to determine are you eligible now with our current unemployment insurance or for the new expanded unemployment assistance.
Suzi LeVine: (06:26)
Number three, the application checklist. Now, for anybody who has tried to put together a bookshelf without instructions, you know what ultimately happens. Please follow the checklist so that, that is not you with regards to your unemployment insurance.
Suzi LeVine: (06:40)
And number four you can sign up now for SecureAccess Washington account and get started so that you can at least cover that step first before even having to apply.
Suzi LeVine: (06:51)
A couple of other things. It’s really important for you to understand what we’re doing to address the demand. Now, my team has been working around the clock. We have been rolling out technology updates on a regular basis and this one, this weekend will be the biggest in order to stay connected with both the rules and the laws that have expanded eligibility, and expanded the speed with which people can receive these benefits.
Suzi LeVine: (07:14)
The other thing we’ve been doing is working to improve the experience on our website so that people can be more self-sufficient. 60% of the calls into our call center that has experienced a thousand percent increase are actually just questions that people have most of which are answered on the website. So please start at the website first.
Suzi LeVine: (07:32)
The other thing that we’re doing is increasing our staffing. By the end of this week, we will have over 500 people doing some form of customer service and then by the end of next week that number will swell to above a thousand. It’s all hands on deck as well.
Suzi LeVine: (07:48)
One of the key things that will happen with regards to having independent contractors and self-employed workers apply is that we don’t already have their wage data, so they are going to need to upload that wage data to us and we’re going to need to review it. However, in order to expedite and get money into people’s pockets and at the same time protect taxpayers from fraud, for those individuals who need to provide us with that wage documentation who don’t have wages and hours on file with us.
Suzi LeVine: (08:20)
We are going to provide them with the minimum weekly benefit, which is $235 from this unemployment assistance program plus the $ 600. So right out of the gate they’re going to get $835 per week and then we’re going to verify their wage documentation, and then we will retroactively pay them for any difference.
Suzi LeVine: (08:42)
The key thing here is that we are now going to take our entire ESD staff and put them on this wage verification effort. I have authorized for my agency people to postpone for two weeks all non-essential work in order to focus on this effort. I’m going to be joining my team to do this. We’ve authorized as much over time as people want to do in order to help get that money in people’s pockets and get it in their pockets faster.
Suzi LeVine: (09:10)
Now, I want to set some expectations. Our team, like I said, is going to be focusing on the upgrade to the software on Saturday and is going to be back at it on Sunday to be able to serve folks. We are lucky that we have a system that allows us to make this kind of update. There are many other States that are really challenged with this right now, but I want to make sure that people understand.
Suzi LeVine: (09:33)
We made some trade offs. It is going to be a very bare bones website experience and it’s going to be a bit clunky. This goes back to the point on being prepared and making sure that you’re taking the time to step through the system. Let me give you an example.
Suzi LeVine: (09:47)
It’s going to be a two-step process, so you’re going to go through and fill out the unemployment insurance form, and at the end of that, it’s going to state that you’re ineligible. And then that will unlock another link to go and apply for the unemployment assistance. That’s not the optimal experience and I recognize that, but we wanted to get money in your pockets…
Suzi LeVine: (10:03)
… not the optimal experience and I recognize that, but we wanted to get money in your pockets faster and that was a trade off that we were willing to make in order to do that.
Suzi LeVine: (10:09)
Those are some of the things in terms of an experience that you might expect. Here again is what you can do, the most important thing is to be prepared. Four key things, go to the website, sign up for the action alerts; number two, use the eligibility checker; three, use the application checklist; and number four, sign up for a secure Access Washington account. Lastly, I want to speak to a question that’s come up recently with regards to the numbers. For example, last week, we had a total of 585,000 claims and a total number of claims that were paid out that was about, let’s see, 256,000. A lot of folks have been trying to do the math and say, “What happened to the other couple hundred-thousand that are in there?”
Suzi LeVine: (10:59)
Well, I want to describe that, but most importantly, what you should know is that most of those people are folks who have been ineligible thus far. They will be eligible in most cases after this weekend’s update and able to access this benefit, and we will pay retroactive to the date of their eligibility.
Suzi LeVine: (11:19)
What happened was after the Cares Act was passed on the 27th and went into effect on the 29th, a lot of people thought, “I should get my money right away,” and they started to apply, which I totally understand. What we want to do is to make sure that we are serving them. That’s the lion’s share.
Suzi LeVine: (11:35)
There are other people within that number who may not be eligible at all because they voluntarily quit or because they were fired without cause, with cause. Excuse me fired without cause.
Suzi LeVine: (11:47)
Another set of those are those people where there’s some level of individual adjudication that needs to happen. For example, those whose hours that they think they worked may be different than those than their employers. Those will require an individual claims agent to work with them.
Suzi LeVine: (12:06)
The last set is where we’re really double-clicking deeply. These are folks who may have applied, where it’s a circumstance that doesn’t make sense in a pandemic. For example, we had 12,000 people who were waiting for some level of adjudication, who were students who work. When you go on unemployment insurance, you need to demonstrate that you are able and available for work at any time. But if you’re a student, you can give your hours and basically get a waiver for those hours. Well, with schools closed, you don’t need to get that waiver. What we have done is basically wiped out that issue, and 12,000 people earlier this week were able then to get access to benefits. We’re looking at where do we have more of those, and working rapidly and dynamically in our system.
Suzi LeVine: (12:54)
Within just two and a half weeks, our demand rose 1000% into our call centers and over 950% in initial claims, so we have been working as swiftly as we humanly can, working around the clock to meet the needs of Washingtonians so that people can stay home and stay healthy and know that we’re helping them mitigate the economic impact of that.
Suzi LeVine: (13:16)
With that, I thank you very much. Again, please be prepared in advance of applying for unemployment insurance. We want to be there for you. Thank you.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (13:23)
Speaker 3: (13:30)
Okay. First question, we go to Rachel with AP.
My first question for commissioner [inaudible 00:13:36], those enhanced checks with the extra $600, when will those be projected in the weekly benefits?
Suzi LeVine: (13:42)
Will it be the middle of next week?
Then for the governor, the Trump administration today issued new guidelines for states that seemed close to what you discussed yesterday as it pertains to phasing-in the reopening of things here. Are there anything about the national guidelines that cause you concern? Then, also, can you give some detail about the tests? Whether you agree with the timeline on when you might see some supplies and if you have a total number of tests that we need by a certain date?
Gov. Jay Inslee: (14:12)
Rachel, thank you so much for the question about when people will start to see the $600 additional weekly benefit. Right away is the answer. Especially since we have waived the waiting week, individuals will be eligible to get that money right away. What we have found is that when people apply and are approved, we’re able to get them their money within an average of five to seven days. For those who are doing direct deposit, we get them their money within 24 to 48 hours. The good news is that we’ll start including that $600. For those who are already on unemployment insurance, that will happen automatically. It will get added and we will do it retroactive to the date of their eligibility. People will not have to take a special action in order to bring on that additional amount. We will do that automatically and we will pay it retroactively. People’s first checks may be quite a bit larger than their subsequent weekly checks. As a reminder, people do need to file weekly claims in order to continue to get their unemployment insurance benefits.
I’ll turn it over to the governor.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (15:19)
Yeah, in regard to the president’s guidance, the first thing I’ll say is a good thing about it is it is not binding. It is not an order. It is not a judgment. The president recognized, finally, I think, that the rightful decision making is in the states and the governor’s offices, both Republicans and Democrats. I’m glad that he has recognized that because we need to make a decision what’s good for our state in our state. In that regard, his guidelines are very good. By the way, he did not authorize us to make decisions. What authorized us to make decisions are the US Constitution and our state constitution and the people of the state of Washington. That part is good. It’s basically hands off. We will make our own decisions here in the state of Washington.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (16:06)
Regarding the suggestions of these guidelines, there are some things that are somewhat consistent with what we’re thinking because they basically, and we’ve just been able to look at them very briefly, if you look at what the administration guidelines are, even under the president’s guidelines, we would not be eligible to start reopening our economy even today because even under, they have things, they call them gates, you have to get to certain gates before you could take certain steps. We are not to the first gate even under their guidelines, which is to have a downward turn in your infections for 14 days. We have not experienced that. In fact, we have really not had a downward curve either in a meaningful way in our infections or our fatalities or our percentage of hospitalizations for COVID-like symptoms. Even under the president’s guidance, we would not be able today to move forward through what they call a gate.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (17:09)
Now there is something that I think that we will not be consistent, to my knowledge at the moment, and that is that when we have looked at our graphs that pertain to the state of Washington, the fact is that even if we do get our curve going down, if we take off social distancing, the virus will come back and the fatalities will go up again. I shared a graph for you yesterday on two graphs that demonstrate that. We are not going to do that in the state of Washington. We’re not going to allow fatalities to go back up. We’re not going to allow to this virus to become a constant presence in our life, with death continuing to go up in our state. We’ll seek clarification, but from my understanding of their guidance so far, it’s not consistent totally with what we think is right for the state of Washington. We care too much about our loved ones.
Speaker 3: (18:04)
Next question, comes from Jo with The Seattle Times.
Yeah, Governor, what else can the federal government do as far as testing supplies? I mean, is it only authorizing national production or is there other things they can do to help?
Gov. Jay Inslee: (18:21)
Well, the federal government, I think, can do quite a bit more. They have done some things and we appreciate that. As you know, they have released personal protective equipment from the federal stockpile to us in the early days. We appreciate it. That was good. They have distributed some of the Abbott onsite-testing machines. That is good. But the fact of the matter is that we are woefully short. We are a thousand miles away from having enough testing equipment in the United States and in the state of Washington. The fact of the matter is that need for that testing equipment will increase as we open up our economy because more people will need it to assure that they’re safe to come back to work and to make sure that we don’t see a recurrence of this infection rates spring back up. Let me give you an example of how desperate that situation was.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (19:16)
About a week ago, we had to have a person drive from our lab in Shoreline to Spokane to pick up 40 vials of transport, virus transport medium, and drive it back 150 miles to Yakima for use at an outbreak going on in a longterm-care facility because we didn’t have enough swabs or test medium. That’s how precarious this situation is. To remedy this, we need the federal government to cause a full-scale mobilization of the industrial capacity of the United States.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (19:53)
Only the federal government can do that because it is only the federal government that has two things. Number one, the supply chain of the Department of Defense, which is the most productive, powerful supply chain-
Gov. Jay Inslee: (20:03)
Department of Defense, which is the most productive, powerful supply chain in human history. We have needed the President, for some time, to tell the Pentagon to order their people in their supply chain to stop making a few more cup holders for some of our armored personnel carriers, and start making swabs and vials and everything else that we need. We need the President to order that. That process, and I talked to him weeks ago about this, and he said he would not do that. He is now starting to do that, just a little bit. Admiral Polacheck is doing great work trying to initiate that effort, but we could use more Presidential oomph in that regard.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (20:46)
Now I will also say that there are still glitches in the system. The Abbott onsite testing machine, which sounds like it can be a great technology, but as of a couple of days ago they, it had not validated, it couldn’t pass the test to be adequately accurate. Now that may have been resolved this afternoon, I don’t know.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (21:09)
But I just want to give you a window of how much work we need to do to get this testing capability stood up. Now that has to be married with the contact tracing army, to be like the fire brigade to come when there’s a fire, they come right away. And we need that COVID brigade to come test you right away, and contact everyone you’ve had contact with, to get them in isolation. That, also, we need, and we’re making good progress on that. We’ve identified about 550 state employees that we can deploy into that. And we’re looking at some other ideas as well in the next couple of days. So there’s a lot of work that has to be done to get to that next step that we contemplate.
Speaker 4: (21:58)
Next, we have Essex with [inaudible 00:21:58]
This question for the Governor-
Gov. Jay Inslee: (21:58)
Essex, could you excuse me? Essex, can you excuse me just for one moment, because I did want to add something in that last thing. I want to say that I’ve been talking to Vice President Mike Pence about these issues on quite a number of occasions. I just want to point out that we appreciate the Vice Presidents’ communicating with us about this need. We hope that those talks can result in a faster rate of production of this equipment. We desperately need it. Thank you, Essex. Thank you.
Mr. Governor, because the President’s guidelines seem to be fairly close to your old approach to this, how helpful is it the people who are anxious to see you reopen things that the President’s guidelines seem to generally track with yours?
Gov. Jay Inslee: (22:45)
Well, it’s good, obviously we’d like to have the most consistent guidelines. It’s not imperative because the President recognized today that he will not intrude on our constitutional authority in the State of Washington. But it is a good time, anytime you can have consistency from different leaders, it’s helpful. Now there’s not total congruity on this, as I pointed out. As I understand some of these guidelines, they could result, if we follow them to the T, in a situation where our infection rate would go back up. We’re not going to do that in the State of Washington. We want to continue to drive this number down, and we’re committed to that. We don’t want to lose any of the gains that we’ve had.
Speaker 4: (23:32)
Next we [inaudible 00:23:36]
Yes, the state is paying [inaudible 00:00:23:42].
Gov. Jay Inslee: (23:39)
You want to talk about this?
$125 million last week. How long can the trust fund remain solid at this rate? And separate question, there’s so many businesses closed, the sales veto tax receipts will be plummeting, at what time, Governor, will you need to call a special session to rewrite the operating budget?
Suzi LeVine: (24:06)
I’ll speak to trust fund solvency, and then I’ll hand it over to the Governor for the remainder of that question. With regards to our trust fund, a couple of key things to keep in mind. For one, business and labor came together almost a decade ago to really create the strongest unemployment insurance program in the country. As a result, going into this crisis, we have the strongest trust fund at $4.7 billion. You are right though, Jim, that we are drawing on that during this crisis. That said, the expansion of the Federal Cares Act will be Federal money coming in. So, the additional $600 per week for any unemployment assistance recipient, the additional 13 weeks, also the expansion, any of those expanded individuals accessing what’s called pandemic unemployment assistance, that will all be paid by the Federal government. Also, any shared work participants, so this is where businesses can reduce the hours by 10 to 50% of their staff, and that amount that we then pay in for unemployment insurance for the partial wage replacement is now covered by the Federal government in accordance with the Federal Cares act.
Suzi LeVine: (25:14)
So, that will certainly help. That said, we are drawing heavily on our trust fund. Our hope is that as we look ahead at the fourth phase or fifth phase from the Federal government, that there will be conversations about how to help States backfill their trust funds so that businesses aren’t ultimately having to be burdened by this when we do the evaluation of trust fund solvency at the end of the year. We are very encouraged by the support from the Federal government. In terms of people being able to continue to draw funds, our trust fund, even if we do draw it down, we will be able to obtain funds from the Federal government to backfill. So we’re good to go, Jim on that front. Thank you so much for that question. Governor.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (26:03)
We are very fortunate in having had very fiscally responsible predecessors as governors and legislators, both in the unemployment fund, but also in our budget. We have several billion dollars in our reserve fund because of that fiscal responsibility to draw on, on these tough times. We don’t have a direct answer to your question. There is a possibility that we could make it till January without necessary changes in our budget, but that’s only a possibility at the moment. As we get closer to the revenue forecast, we’ll be able to give you a better answer in that regard.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (26:39)
By the way, I want to thank Susie for her leadership, not only in employment security, but tomorrow we’re talking to the leadership of the Roche company in Switzerland that makes machines that analyze these COVID 19 virus tests. We’re going to be talking to them about the possibility of obtaining one, or additional, machines for the University of Washington. Her contacts when she was an ambassador, US ambassador to Switzerland, has allowed that to take place. The reason I mention that is to appreciate her leadership, but also to give you an indication of how committed we are in Washington to finding these test kits. I’m on the phone every day with leaders around the world trying to obtain these test kits, so we’re working on this.
I’m going to ask one more quick question of the Governor. Thank you, Governor. We’re on [inaudible 00:27:33] right now, but I’m going to ask you, as far as the amount of testing, is there a percentage of people who actually you need to see being tested? Is there a number that you can give us that can really even envision reopening the state?
Gov. Jay Inslee: (27:46)
We’re doing about 4,500 tests per day now. That’s relatively high, relative to other States and nations, but it simply is not enough. We’re still evaluating that question, to come up with an exact number. One of the early numbers that we talked about was about 15,000 tests a day. To do that, you have to, importantly, have all of the chains in the link. You’ve got to have the swab, the virus transmittal medium, you’ve got to have the system to send it to for analysis, and the way to get the results back to patients. All of those links in the chain have to be operating. Right now we have excess capacity to analyze them, but we don’t have enough, actually, way to get the samples to the labs. So, that’s what we’re working on and we’ll have a better number for you next week actually.
Speaker 5: (28:42)
I’ve got a question for the commissioner. You had made reference to the, we anticipate a tsunami. Is there a way you can anticipate exactly what you’re expecting? And then also could you elaborate on the issue with the computer in terms of people? It’ll show that people are ineligible on the screen.
Suzi LeVine: (29:14)
Absolutely. Thank you so much for asking that. In terms of when I say it, tsunami, just to give you a gauge, our biggest week that we’ve had thus far has been about 183,000 initial claims in a given week. That number includes some who may have been ineligible. We anticipate this being probably several hundred thousand within the next two weeks who will apply. That’s based on numbers that we understand, for example, across the state independent contractors, there’s estimated to be about a million of them across Washington State. We don’t know how many of them have been impacted by COVID 19, but we need to hope for the best, and prepare for the most. So that’s what we are doing with our staff, and with our technology, and with the information that we hope people use first.
Suzi LeVine: (30:03)
Technology and with the information that we hope people use first on the website. In terms of the experience that people will have, part of the requirement from US Department of Labor is that those obtaining, again, the official name is pandemic unemployment assistance. We simply call it Expanded Unemployment Assistance. You have to first determine that somebody is ineligible for your state’s Unemployment Insurance Program, so what we have done with our experience is to step people through that application, and when you are deemed ineligible, it will show on your account, and then, you will have an additional link that shows up for you to then apply for this Expanded Unemployment Assistance.
Suzi LeVine: (30:47)
Your information will be pre-populated in there, but there will be some additional items that you need to fill out, and again, your wage documents that you’ll need to upload if we don’t already have your wage data. Keep in mind it’s not just independent contractors or self-employed workers, it’s also those, for example, who don’t have 680 hours. The person who’s only been on the job for a month or two, or the person who works five hours per week. It’s also certain categories that we have in statute like beauticians where they have been ineligible, and so, this will allow us to obtain that information, and to be able to get them that assistance.
Suzi LeVine: (31:27)
Now, the other key thing that I mentioned before is that where the individuals need to provide us with wage documents, that would include for example, their 2019 tax filing, their tax return, is an ideal document. Another would be their 1099 forms, something that shows us their wages over the past 12 to 18 months, so that we can verify the amount that they are saying they received in wages, and determine what weekly benefit they get in addition to the $600 per week that is available until the end of July. Does that help answer your question there?
Speaker 11: (32:07)
Suzi LeVine: (32:07)
Speaker 6: (32:07)
Next [inaudible 00:32:10].
Speaker 7: (32:13)
Commissioner first for you, how many Washingtonians are still in that processing? It’s a point where they’re still waiting for their first unemployment benefits to come through, and then, for the governor we’re expecting have a protest down in Olympia this Sunday. They say that their liberties have been attacked. We’ve already seen some of these protests happen in Michigan and Ohio. The Michigan governor has said because of the protests she may have to further restrict movement in her state. What’s your message for the people that are going to be showing up to the Capitol on Sunday?
Suzi LeVine: (32:50)
I’ll start out with the numbers, and then, I’ll flip to the governor for the protests. In terms of the numbers, we are digging in to the number of who have not been able to get approved for benefits thus far. Most importantly, a majority of them will be eligible for this Expanded Unemployment Assistance and with the update happening this Saturday, we will be sending out a note to all of those who have applied, and not been able to be approved thus far to invite them to come, and apply again, and be able to access the Unemployment Assistance Program. That’s the most important takeaway for folks. It’s a couple of hundred thousand people who we know have not been able to get approved, and we’re looking forward to supporting them and getting them the benefits that they so desperately need. Governor.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (33:47)
First off, if people do come to Olympia this weekend, of course, they’re welcome to express their 1st Amendment rights to say what they want to say. I do encourage them to socially distance when they do that, try to maintain six feet apart while you’re expressing yourself. We care about your safety as well, but I will say if a thousand people showed up this weekend, what I would know is that there would be 6,999,000 Washingtonians who care enough about their families to pitch in a little bit, to try to prevent our loved ones from dying, and to those 6,999,000 Washingtonians, I just say thank you, we commend you. You’re being honored by the whole nation that recognizes Washington as being a leading state to save ourselves from this deadly virus. Good on you. I’m standing with you. We’re going to keep this up until we beat this.
Speaker 6: (34:45)
I think we only have time for a few more. Next week we go to [inaudible 00:04:50].
Speaker 8: (34:53)
Similar to an earlier question, I’m wondering if you could describe the specific metric that you’re looking for regarding testing and growth, so is it like we’ve heard from the president 14 days straight for the number of new patients is going down, or are you wanting that number [inaudible 00:35:07] zero before you consider lifting restrictions, and also, curious if you have any concerns about reports of false negative testing?
Gov. Jay Inslee: (35:18)
There’s been scattered reports of false negatives. It can occur. Fortunately, it seems to be relatively small number. It certainly isn’t a large enough number to mean we shouldn’t test. The tests are highly accurate, accurate enough to base decisions on, so I feel confident in that. Look, my view is that we should transition from a large social distancing strategy to a strategy of testing, and robust contact tracing when we get the number down low enough that the epidemiologist can tell us that that number by itself is not going to start to go up again, and that’s approaching zero. If you look at the graphs, it is much lower than it is today, and it’s going to take a considerable period of time for that curve to get down to that level.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (36:13)
When we get down to that level, we will then be able to dial a up our social interactions, and push a go button on our testing and contact tracing army, and I feel we’re going to get there and that the faster we commit to this, the faster we’re going to get to that happy day, and I’m looking forward to that.
Speaker 6: (36:36)
Next we have a question [inaudible 00:36:40]
Speaker 9: (36:40)
I’m looking for your reactions to Boeing announcing it will restart commercial airplane production, and whether you gave them the green light to do so, and secondarily, I just want to know if you have any plans to extend any sort of a grace period to unemployed folks who are unable to pay contact fees. We actually talked to quite a few of them today who are struggling with that.
Gov. Jay Inslee: (37:01)
Interesting question. I haven’t actually thought about that, I’ll give thought to that, so we’ll get an answer to you. We have taken any number of measures to protect people. Look, these are really hard times. That’s why I very early issued an emergency proclamation that people could not be evicted for nonpayment of rent. It’s why we’ve worked at a moratorium against foreclosures for home payments. We’ve done a number of things like this, and we will consider that. I’ll try to get an answer for you. You asked the first question, which was
Commissioner LeVine: (37:34)
Boeing [crosstalk 00:37:35].
Gov. Jay Inslee: (37:35)
Boeing, yes, thank you. Yes. Well, we couldn’t connect with Stan Deal this morning, so I didn’t have a chance to talk to him about this specifically, but we have talked about this prospect in the past, and I am glad that the Boeing company is committing to very robust social distancing protocols, and use of PPE. We will try to get more details about that to make sure that those plans are adequate to the safety of Boeing employees, which obviously is a paramount concern of ours. I will be talking to Mr. Deal. Our departments will look at their plans to guarantee safety of our employees and hopefully they’re going to pass muster.
Speaker 10: (38:17)
Speaker 6: (38:17)
Final question we give it to Tom with Public Radio.
Tom : (38:25)
Quick follow up for Commissioner LeVine. I have a couple of hundred thousand estimated folks who have previously applied, and been denied, but will be ineligible after Saturday have to reapply, that is they won’t be automatically put onto accepted claims.
Suzi LeVine: (38:41)
Those individuals who already have accounts with us and have already applied will see in their accounts if they’ve been deemed ineligible thus far, they will see a link that will allow them to go straight into that new Expanded Unemployment Assistance part of the application. Does that answer your question, Tom?
Tom : (39:05)
But, they do have to take an affirmative step, it won’t happen automatically?
Suzi LeVine: (39:05)
It will not happen automatically. They need to go to our esd.wa.gov website, and we will be sending an email to them with the link where they would go to their account, and sign in, and in their account, they will see the link that will help them apply for the Expanded Unemployment Assistance Program. It will not happen automatically, that is correct.
Speaker 6: (39:33)
[ inaudible 00:09:28].
Gov. Jay Inslee: (39:33)
My final words are, again, thanks to everybody who’s doing their great work right now, and to wash your hands. Thanks a lot.