Mar 18, 2020
Washington Governor Jay Inslee Coronavirus Update March 18
Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, gives an update on COVID-19 on March 18. Read the full transcript here on Rev.com.
Jay Inslee: (00:00)
Choppy economic waters. And, like when we face any squall, we know that we’re going to get through that squall and that storm. But it is going to be tough while we do that. And, when I think of these things I think of what my dad used to tell me. And that was, when you’re going through hell, keep going. And so, we are going to keep going as a state. We are going to take as quick and as resolute action as we can to help Washingtonians through these difficult times. And that’s what we’re talking about today.
Jay Inslee: (00:38)
Joining us remotely is Seattle mayor, Jenny Durkan and Tacoma mayor Victoria Woodards. They’ll say a few things after my remarks. Both of them have been a really strong leaders for their communities at this time. Also joining us remotely is our ESD commissioner, Suzi LeVine. She’ll be available to answer questions, should there be any after my comments. So, today we’re going to continue to take actions dealing with the health and, today, the economic security of Washingtonians. I’m pleased to say we have already distributed over 75 million dollars of the legislature’s 200 million dollar allocation for our COVID outbreak response. And that’s for state agencies and institutions to use for our statewide response.
Jay Inslee: (01:25)
Now, I know acutely that folks who have been involved in the sit down service in our restaurants and our bars and those who’ve missed large gatherings because of this, this has caused some real economic hardship for our families and our small businesses and large businesses. So, we want to do what we can do to help them. And to that end, I’m announcing today several measures to help relief for our workers, for our renters, and for our small business people. First, I’m announcing a statewide moratorium on evictions for failure to pay rent for residential tenants for the next 30 days. This is how this order will work. Residential landlords will be prohibited from serving a notice for default payment of rent. Residential landlords would be prohibited, under this order, from issuing a 20 day notice unless the landlord can show that action would be necessary for the health and safety of the tenant or other individuals. Residential landlords will be prohibited from initiating judicial action. I want to thank Attorney General Bob Ferguson and his team helping to craft this order. I appreciate their partnership.
Jay Inslee: (02:51)
We’ve had some good news from the federal government today related to housing. The Federal Housing Finance Agency directed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for at least 60 days do to the COVID-19 outbreak. We welcome that federal action.
Jay Inslee: (03:10)
As you know, we’re experiencing a rapidly growing number of workers who are off the job for lengths of time that exceed many worker’s leave benefits. These are the same for workers who are not covered by our current social safety net. Therefore, I’m announcing additional help in regard to our unemployment benefits in the state of Washington.
Jay Inslee: (03:35)
First, we are waiving the one week time period before you can get access to unemployment insurance. This will help money get into the unemployed Washingtonians pocket as soon as possible when they urgently need it. Second, this order is retroactive to claims filed March 8th the day of my first emergency rule expanding unemployment insurance to more workers. I’m also continuing to work with the White House and our congressional delegation to establish disaster unemployment assistance. This would give us the authority to serve impacted Washingtonians who are not otherwise eligible through the unemployment insurance program.
Jay Inslee: (04:19)
We sent a letter to the Trump Administration today asking for the president to make a national disaster declaration. And the importance, for several reasons, but one of the foremost is that today Washingtonians who have not accumulated, I believe it’s 680 hours, would not have access to unemployment insurance. If, in fact, this is accomplished and the president issues this declaration, we believe this will open unemployment insurance to people just like it would have been for disasters, and tornadoes, and floods. If the president is unable to do that for some reason, then we are calling upon Congress in their next round to take that statutory action so people can get access to unemployment insurance.
Jay Inslee: (05:09)
I think this is very important for families that are, obviously, going to be so stressed. But it’s also important for the economy to make sure that money gets distributed so that those families can be good consumers and keep dollars flowing through our economy. That’s helpful for everyone, in addition to these hard-pressed families. So, we’re very hopeful that the administration will take this step and that Congress can be assisting in that regard.
Jay Inslee: (05:38)
We’re also doing more to help families. Under my direction, the Department of Social Health Services will expand eligibility for the Family Emergency Assistance Program to include families without children. We think this can be very helpful to quite a number of families.
Jay Inslee: (05:57)
I’m also calling on all public utilities to offer rate payer assistance. I’m asking that public utilities waive late fees for customers who are out of work or offering customers payment plans and expanding bill assistance programs for customers who are economically impacted by this emergency. Many utilities have already taken this step. We appreciate their leadership. That includes Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy, Tacoma Public Utilities, Public Utility District, who acted early to address the needs of their customers soon after the outbreak.
Jay Inslee: (06:39)
And I just want to note that we see so many acts of civic responsibility and compassion that are going on like this that the utilities took it upon themselves to do. We’re seeing this from big businesses, small businesses, medium businesses, social clubs, neighbors. I got to tell you, it’s just heartening when I see people stepping up to the plate like these utilities have done.
Jay Inslee: (07:04)
I’m also suspending certain restrictions on the Utilities and Transportation Commission to enable them to use funds to provide economic aid to customers affected by COVID-19. This will provide the Utilities and Transportation Commission Authority to expand the use of the energy bill assistant funds to customers who are out of work or working significantly reduced hours, as a result of the pandemic.
Jay Inslee: (07:29)
Now, we realize it’s not just employees who are hard pressed. Small businesses are as well. Earlier this week, the Federal Small Business Administration approved my request for a disaster declaration. And it is anticipated that all counties in Washington State will be eligible. Congress recently approved up to seven billion dollars in SBA disaster loans for businesses impacted by the COVID-19 challenge. Additionally, up to five million dollars of my strategic reserve funds will now be made available as small grants to small businesses across the state to help prevent closure do to COVID… commerce director, Lisa Brown, and ESD commissioner, Suzi LeVine, for co-chairing this effort.
Jay Inslee: (08:41)
I’m also announcing tax collections relief for small businesses. Under my direction, the Department of Revenue will suspend penalties and interest payments on late tax payments. The state will offer payment plans on the core amount the businesses owe. This also means the suspension of enforcement actions such as forced collections. And these measures will be in place for at least 30 days.
Jay Inslee: (09:11)
As you can see from these and other announcements, we recognize that we are in extraordinary times. And it is necessary to do what we can to help Washingtonians weather this storm. Before I take some questions, I’d like to issue a few urgent reminders to Washingtonians. First, I really hope people can avoid unnecessarily overstocking with supplies. We are experienced a tremendous strain on our supply system in our groceries and other stores. And that makes it harder for at risk individuals to feel safe and confident. The fact is, our supply chain is very robust and healthy. That’s one of the good things I can report to you. And, when people see empty shelves, it’s principally because of the rush buying and, frankly, the hoarding that’s going on that really is not necessary. So, it is my hope that people shop at a normal pace. And we will all get through this together. I hope people can think about that.
Jay Inslee: (10:19)
Second, we know the stress and anxiety particularly caused because, by necessity, we have to limit our social interactions. Our behavioral health community is ready to help. If you or your family member needs emotional or mental health support or treatment resources for substance abuse, please consider calling the Washington Recovery Helpline. They are at +1 866-789-1511. That’s +1 866-789-1511.
Jay Inslee: (10:57)
The last thing I want to say, and this will not be the last time I say it, but it is so important that we really, really stress the need to protect people over the age of 60 in our communities and in our families. We know that something like 70 to 90% of the fatalities that have been experienced have been in people of over the age of 60 and those with serious underlying health conditions. And we know that, if we were going to think of all the things we could do is Washingtonians today, it would be to encourage our parents, our grandparents, our uncles, our aunts to shelter in place so that they can save themselves from this scourge.
Jay Inslee: (11:44)
We know that can be extremely effective. And it is our main weapon against this crisis. And we all play a part that as sons, and daughters, and nieces, and nephews, to encourage our elders who we respect. We want to keep them around for years to enjoy them. And we’re going to hope that we can encourage them to be respectful of themselves. It’s just not a time for people over 60 to going out to socialize and expose themselves to unnecessary risks.
Jay Inslee: (12:18)
I was kind of reminded of this a couple of hours ago. I called my old basketball coach, Walt Milroy. He was my coach at Ingram High School. And he is a hundred years of age. And he’s great health, totally with it, as knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world as he was when he was our coach. And it was just really fun talking to him. And I want to keep that for years. And, if we can all protect him, and his generation, and frankly my generation by reducing our social exposure, that’s going to be a really good thing.
Jay Inslee: (12:56)
Now, I have to admit, I was a little disturbed talking to the coach because somebody put up a little clip of my basketball team when I was playing back in 1969. And they just showed a few seconds of that. And it showed this guy shooting right over the top of me. And lifted my hands, but there wasn’t a half inch between me and the floor. It was like I was nailed to the floor. And that was very disturbing to me because, my recollection, I was a real leaper and blocking shots right and left. So, that was a little disturbing. But we need to keep our old coaches going. And I hope people really double down on this effort. And, with that, I want to turn it over to Seattle mayor, Jenny Durkan.
Jenny Durkan: (13:45)
Thank you governor. I just want everyone out there, you’re steady leadership, Governor Inslee, has been so great through this. And for everybody in Washington and those across the nation that are wondering whether we can get through this, look at our state and our leaders. Because whether it is our county executives in our three counties, Bruce Dammeier, Dow Constantine, Dave Somers, or all my fellow mayors, we are working together. And Governor, your leadership has been great.
Jenny Durkan: (14:13)
We know how deadly and serious this disease is. We know there’s no vaccine and there’s no cure. The only tool we have are the actions we take. That’s why we as government have taken such steps, steps we’ve not seen since World War II. We’re asking everybody to do the right thing. And people are doing the right thing because we know what consequences it will have.
Jenny Durkan: (14:37)
But we also know the actions that we’ve taken are having real impacts on our workers, and our businesses, and our families. In Seattle alone, we have hundreds of thousands of people who work for small businesses who will lose their jobs. I am so proud of a governor, who has stood up to make sure that we can, as much as we can, buffer that. In Seattle, we’re taking initial steps to protect workers, our most vulnerable small businesses. But I-
Jenny Durkan: (15:03)
… to protect workers, our most vulnerable small businesses, but I know it will take all of us working together in all levels of government to get through this. Nationally, I think we need a bolder plan. We need something bigger than the New Deal to put money in the pockets of workers and create jobs. We don’t just have to get through this, we have to come out of this stronger than ever before.
Jenny Durkan: (15:25)
The state, well, again, I know the Governor has been and will take critical actions that we need, give people unemployment assistance to help people who are at risk for eviction. All of us together working together. Take [inaudible 00:15:41] for workers and residents and businesses, and I really applaud the Governor for taking some additional steps today. We moved quickly to put in place an eviction moratorium so businesses and nonprofits and residents can stay in their homes. I’m so proud that that will be statewide now. And for our business and nonprofits, we’ve deferred our B&O taxes. We’ve provided technical assistance so small businesses could get first in line for the billions of dollars from the federal government.
Jenny Durkan: (16:09)
We created a small business stabilization fund, $10,000 grant, and the first day we had thousands of people apply. And were trying to get more money, [crosstalk 00:16:21] put more money in the pockets of those small businesses so they can weather the storm.
Jenny Durkan: (16:25)
We’re also investing in our arts, in an arts recovery package, because when we come out of this, we know we want our city and our region to be as vital as before. Even for the small things, like we’re trying to create loading zones by our restaurants, so when people come to get take-out, they can get them as quickly and those restaurants could operate and employ people.
Jenny Durkan: (16:48)
The tax relief announced today will also be critical in waiving interest, fees, late payments, all those things that stack up during a period of time when people are most concerned. We know that we need this money to save the small businesses and our workers money in people’s pockets. I want to commend the Governor for reducing the waiting period for unemployment insurance and expanding cash assistance for low income families. I know putting that to work immediately is going to make a huge difference, not just for Seattle, but for everybody across our state.
Jenny Durkan: (17:22)
I want to echo what the Governor said. This is a hard time, and we’re in the early days of what could be a marathon. We will see a lot of grief and a lot of hardship, but we can get through this. We will get through it if we pull together, and I have seen so many [inaudible 00:17:40] the two and a half weeks that we’ve been in this in King County. And again, I just [inaudible 00:17:45] not just the local leaders, but our first-line healthcare workers. I was able to go to Harborview and see the people who are caring for those that are sick. They’re heroes. Our first responders of fire and police out there every day to try to get the people to safer places.
Jenny Durkan: (18:03)
And those that are working with our most vulnerable communities, they know that together we can get through this. It won’t be easy. It will be tough, and at times, it’ll look even tougher than other times. But together we can build the kind of resilience we need to get through it and come out stronger.
Jenny Durkan: (18:20)
So again, I want to just thank the Governor and all my fellow readers across the state for pulling together on this time. But we’re reflecting the toughness and the resilience of those people who were already on the front lines, the people who’ve lost people, the healthcare workers who are taking care of them and risking their own health and safety, and our first responders. So my gratitude is to everybody else and to know that through this time together we’ll get through. With this, I want to turn it over to my great friend and colleague, Tacoma Mayor, Victoria Woodards.
Victoria Woodards: (18:55)
Thank you, Mayor Durkan, and thank you for your leadership as well in all of this. I too want to take the time to thank the Governor for his leadership in taking this very bold step to protect our most vulnerable residents. I’m so glad that as I called the Governor, we talked about this, that he got to work on this quickly, and I know that other cities have taken on suspending evictions, but I’m glad that we’re taking it state-wide.
Victoria Woodards: (19:21)
Governor, the work that you’re doing to make it easier on our local government so we can focus on other issues right to your home, is so important to us. Well, I again just want to express my extreme gratitude to you for taking this bold step of taking care of our residents. The peace of mind will go a long way to ensure that our community is focused on caring for themselves, on their families. And folks cannot not worry about how they’re going to pay their rent, now they’re not working [crosstalk 00:04:50]. If they can figure out that. They know that they don’t have to, that their utilities are not going to get shut off, this is going to go a long way to providing peace of mind, and in times like this, people need peace of mind.
Victoria Woodards: (20:04)
Here in Tacoma, we’ve done some amazing things. And Governor, thank you for mentioning what our utility board has done. Our utility board, along with our City Council last night, we signed a package for one million dollars, to ensure that people who can’t pay their utility bills could get assistance. I also signed an order last night that says that we will not cut anyone’s utilities, whether that be residential or business. We are standing beside folks in our community who are hurting the most and helping to provide them a safety net as we get through this together. I want you to know that if you haven’t signed up for and need help with your utilities, I invite you to go mytcu.com and there you can submit your application and get signed up get this very important assistance.
Victoria Woodards: (20:54)
I’m also grateful that we will get through this together. And we will get through this together because as you all made this [inaudible 00:21:01] in this press conference, we are working together, talking to each other every day, sharing our knowledge, sharing the things that we’re doing so that we can better assist our neighbor. I’m in this with you, Tacoma is in this with you, this community is in this with you, and we’re going to stay working together.
Victoria Woodards: (21:19)
I am going to go call on our federal partners. Thank you so much for having our public [inaudible 00:21:24] take this step, and as we think about, as we work on alleviating people paying their rents and being evicted, we also have to give assurance to those who are paying mortgages. And so I’m glad that we’ve made some movement on our public [inaudible 00:21:38] to step up and do the same thing on behalf of our citizens.
Victoria Woodards: (21:44)
I look forward to continuing this work with you. I’m working with Mayor Durkan, our federal partners, and other local mayors and other community members here in Tacoma. We stand by you to continue to do this great work. We will get through it and we’ll get through it together. Thank you.
Jay Inslee: (22:00)
Thank you for both of your Mayors’ leadership. I believe we are going to stand for questions?
Speaker 1: (22:05)
Jay Inslee: (22:05)
Speaker 1: (22:07)
[inaudible 00:22:07] Rachel with the Associated Press.
Speaker 2: (22:10)
I’m sorry [inaudible 00:22:12]
Jay Inslee: (22:11)
If you can bear with us, we’re just queuing up Rachel of the Associated Press.
Jay Inslee: (22:29)
We’ll be right with you, Rachel, in a few seconds. I want to thank members of the media who are being very cooperative, helping us maintain social distancing in this. We care about them too, most of the time.
Speaker 1: (22:45)
Okay Rachel, [inaudible 00:22:47].
You hear me now?
Jay Inslee: (22:49)
Yes. Go ahead, Rachel.
Perfect. This question is for Commissioner LeVine. Wanted to see if you all have already seen a spike in the number of applications for unemployment benefits, and if so, can you give us just a bit of a snapshot of how those numbers have changed just in the past few days since so much has developed?
Jay Inslee: (23:20)
Go ahead Suzi.
Suzi LeVine: (23:21)
Can you hear me?
Jay Inslee: (23:21)
Go ahead. We hear you.
Suzi LeVine: (23:21)
Am I coming through?
Jay Inslee: (23:21)
Yes. Suzi, we hear you. Go ahead.
Suzi LeVine: (23:21)
Hi, Suzi LeVine, the Commissioner of the Employment Security Department. Thank you so much for that question. Rachel. We will have the report out on the official numbers from tomorrow, and last week we saw a spike about 150% year over year. We will have the data for this week next week officially, but yes, we’ve seen a substantial spike and increase from that 150% for this week. We also are asking the federal government and the US Department of Labor for the ability to report more frequently and more immediately on this. As you might imagine, we have had a flood of requests, those who are eligible and those are ineligible. And so we appreciate people’s patience as we work through this tsunami of demand for unemployment insurance at this time. One piece of the agenda here that is not a part of the federal government, but is information on a shared work program. This is the program that allows businesses who reduce the hours of their employees but keep them working, and then those individuals can get partial wage replacement from unemployment insurance for those reduced hours. We have seen more than a 500% increase in applications from businesses who are our shared work program, which we encourage businesses use whenever possible. Does that answer your question Rachel?
Jay Inslee: (24:54)
Rachel, you’re on mute. We’ll come back to you if you … No, go ahead. Go ahead Rachel, if you want to say anything else. Okay. It sounds like that was answered.
Jay Inslee: (25:11)
Oh wait. Rachel, go ahead if you have something. Okay, Rachel, we’ll come back at the end and see if you have another question. So we’ll take another question.
Speaker 1: (25:24)
We’re now going to go to Joe Sullivan with the Seattle Times.
Joe Sullivan: (25:28)
Yeah, hi. Can you hear me?
Jay Inslee: (25:29)
Yes. Joe, go ahead.
Joe Sullivan: (25:31)
Governor, I want to ask you about the closure of the US/Canadian border to non-essential travel. Do you [inaudible 00:25:39], and do you agree with the President said [inaudible 00:25:45]?
Jay Inslee: (25:46)
Well I haven’t criticized it at the moment. It’s a decision by the federal government so I haven’t really had time to focus on that issue. It will have some impact on us. My understanding is, and I’ve got to make sure this is correct, that we’ll lose a ferry run to Victoria. These are hard national decisions. My understanding is both federal governments basically agreed to it.
Jay Inslee: (26:13)
So what I’m telling you is I am not criticizing it at the moment. I do think it is helpful for all of us to not think of this as any one people or a nation’s problem, and how we talk about it is appropriate. So I want to make clear this is not just a Canadian problem. It is not just an American problem. It is not just some Chinese problem. This is a problem for all humanity and I will say that we should look for ways to approach it in those terms.
Speaker 1: (26:46)
Next we’re going to go [inaudible 00:26:47].
Speaker 3: (26:49)
Governor, we asked this yesterday, there are rumors abound that we’re going to follow the lead of San Francisco Bay area and do a shelter-in-place. What do you want to say regarding that and how close are we to approaching that and with the national guard views do you foresee?
Jay Inslee: (27:05)
Well, listen, we could spend a lot of time trying to chase down rumors and we got to focus on today’s challenges today, and that’s what we’re doing to try to help the economic prospects of Washingtonians. And that’s what we’re focused on today. If we just spend our time trying to imagine scenarios, we’re not going to be able to make progress. And I encourage people to try to focus on what we can do to together today. And that’s what we’re doing.
Jay Inslee: (27:35)
The COVID is expanding in our state. We’re concerned about that and we’re making decisions as best we can on a daily basis. But today we’re focused on helping people in their economic problems and I’m glad that we can take some real steps in that regard.
Speaker 3: (27:53)
But Governor, are we getting close to that call?
Jay Inslee: (27:53)
Listen, that is a futile thing to think about. Today we’re making decisions to help people and their economic conditions and we can’t just try to speculate what may happen 30, 40, 60 days from now. It’s just a futile exercise of chasing our tail. We’ve got to pull together, be calm, be rational, and make good decisions today.
Jay Inslee: (28:15)
I heard Jenny Durkan say something I thought was pretty perceptive. She said that there are no good choices under such a difficult situation, but there are good decisions. And if we’re going to make good decisions, we got to pay attention to the evidence and the science, not the rumors of future concerns. And that’s what we’re doing today.
Speaker 1: (28:38)
Next, we’re going to go to Jim Camden with the [inaudible 00:28:42] interview. Jim, you’re on.
Can you hear me?
Jay Inslee: (28:45)
Yes, Jim, go ahead.
Two questions if I could, sort of related. One is, is there going to be any assistance to landlords who can’t evict tenants who may not be able to pay their rent? And secondly, if you’ve gone through 75 million of that 200 million in just a few days, that’s a pretty fast burn rate. And what is the plan for a couple of weeks from now when that’s gone?
Jay Inslee: (29:12)
Well, it is possible to go back to the legislature for further authority, or we have some emergency authority ourself in existing law. And so I would not be shocked if there’s not additional expenditures above that amount. We thought it was very important to act quickly, and that’s why we had early distribution of these sums, because these are really important decisions. Look, we’ve got stand up shelter beds for people that are now sleeping 12 inches apart. And we do not want to see this disease go through these shelters. It involves getting better medical equipment so that when the surge hits us, we will have better access to medical issues. So these things have to be done very quickly. And I want to comment that I’ve been very pleased at the bipartisan approach.
Jay Inslee: (30:03)
The comment that I’ve been very pleased at the bipartisan approach to this and I want to compliment the Republican legislators who’ve had a handout to get this job done and so I think we should be confident we’ll have a good working agreement going forward if more is necessary. You mentioned the question about landlords. Yeah, this is a concern. There could be some SBA assistance to landlords depending on their size and the business and the like. And I hope that we can, we can get through that, but we think right now, given the status of this epidemic, we just can’t have a big spike in homelessness together with this epidemic raging and that had to be our first priority right now.
Speaker 4: (30:48)
Okay, now we’re going to go to Drew.
Quick question then, a longer one. Quick one, do you believe the border is closed as we speak? We have a crew up there that seems to see traffic going through there. Do you know the answer to that question at this point?
Jay Inslee: (31:01)
I don’t know the specifics of it. My understanding is that under the order there would be continued traffic for a variety of measures and types of the supply chain. I do want to say it is important that we keep the supply chain open. So that we can continue to have essential products and I’ll have a little more clarity on that tomorrow. Perhaps we can talk about it.
Okay. The other question, you were again encouraging those over 60 to shelter in place.
Jay Inslee: (31:29)
Mm- hmm (affirmative)
I won’t call you out, a number but you’re over 60. Had you thought about staying at the executive residence, avoiding public events even as limited as this?
Jay Inslee: (31:41)
Yes. I am limiting my exposure to public events as much as I can humanly possible do it. So we’re doing a lot of our work from the governor’s residence by phone. The vast majority of work I’ve done in the last three days has been by phone and we’re actually finding this has been very successful. So we’re going to continue that. But there are a few things that necessitate me being in public and this is one of them because we want to keep transparency with the government. So people know what’s going on. It’s a very important part of this issue. I’m pleased that we’ve been able to do some things logistically that can reduce our exposure and I feel confident that we’re maintaining social distance even in this room.
Jay Inslee: (32:23)
And so I feel good about what we’ve been able to achieve today, but if people don’t see me in their functions in the next couple of months as frequently is they have, I hope that they will understand so we can move forward.
Speaker 4: (32:36)
Now we’re going to go to Jerry.
Governor, earlier today, President Trump said that there are two U.S. Navy hospital ships were being dispatched, one in New York on the East Coast and one to location on the West Coast. Will you ask him to send it to Puget Sound and how would you want to use it?
Jay Inslee: (32:56)
Yes. We have asked the White House deploy The Mercy, which is currently in California, the Puget Sound. We think that is the right deployment decision because we are the epicenter of this epidemic and our medical system will be the first one that is stressed. Obviously, every state is would treasure any federal asset, but we think that makes the most sense as a national deployment for that asset to be in Puget Sound.
Jay Inslee: (33:26)
Now there are other assets that the military has pop up hospitals, some of which are at McChord Air Force Base and very close and available as well, but we do hope that the White House will honor our request and have that ship come up here. As to how we would use it, it would presumably be used to try to treat the more normal medical situations rather than the COVID itself. So that it can free up the other hospitals to do mostly COVID related responses. So what we’re trying to do is to build up the capacity of the system to free up some of the hospitals to deal with the intensive COVID work. We presume that’s how The Mercy would be used.
Jay Inslee: (34:09)
It comes with excellent medical crew that’s on the ship, which is fantastic, if it happens. Because obviously we’re stressed for personnel as well. So we are hopeful that the White House makes that decision. We had a good talk with the Secretary of Defense yesterday about this subject and I think he understands our position really well.
Do you have any idea of the timing?
Jay Inslee: (34:35)
It’s more than just a few days to get the ship here. They have to get the personnel. Pardon.
I mean, they’ll tell you before-
Jay Inslee: (34:42)
No, I don’t have a timeframe. I think it’s a four or five day of steam maybe, but they have to get the personnel on the ship and get it up to steam so to speak. So it’s more than just a few days to actually get it into service.
Speaker 4: (34:58)
So now, we’re going to go to Simone, with key 13.
Hi governor, can you hear me?
Jay Inslee: (35:00)
I have two questions for you. One, it’s so great I’m sure probably families in Washington struggling right now that need this type of government assistance, but it’s very confusing with new measures being announced every single day. Is there a one stop shop for Washington families to be able to go to know what they qualify for as opposed to going to their city, to their state, to their federal government to try to gather everything. It takes so long. And my second question is, do you have a message for the communities that are up there, right on the border, who typically cross the border for their daily needs. Now that we know about this closure. As people are still allowed to go to stores and stuff, mostly across our state, their unique situation is the needs that they have are just across the border.
Jay Inslee: (35:52)
Well, what I would say is I think they’re going to have inconvenience and obviously we’d rather not have that inconvenience. And look, there are so many ways that we’re not going to be living what you and I would consider normal lives for some period of time. And I think this is one of them and the people who are close to the border, that is just one more thing that will be different in their lives. But I am most hopeful that we can reduce those and make sure we get groceries and pharmaceuticals to those folks. I’m confident that we will be able to do that. But it is just a reality that all of us are going to have changes in our individual lives. Certainly I have and sort of cutting myself off of physical contact with my grandkids and my mother-in-law and these are things we are going to experience, but I think we’re resilient and we’ll find solutions to these things.
Jay Inslee: (36:46)
And I was reminded sometimes it’s worthwhile listening to seniors and I listened to my old coach, who’s a 100 years old. He says, “I lived through the Great Depression. I lived through World War II. I lived through Korea and Vietnam.” He says, “I’ve seen a lot.” And his perspective is he would rather not be sort of isolated in his home right now. But he wants to keep living and so he’s going to do that because he kind of thinks we’re going to get through this too. And it’s heartening to hear people talking in those terms. Your question about centralized information. I will see if there’s something we can do to centralize it, but we do have multiple jurisdictions and we will do what we can to make it as accessible to people as possible.
Jay Inslee: (37:36)
Susie, do you have any particular advice on that? I know that you have systems. Would you like to comment on that. We’re going to see if we can dial up Susie Levine. Yeah, she’s going to come up. Susie.
Suzi LeVine: (37:47)
I’m here. I’m here. Thank you so much. Susie Levine from the Employment Security Department and so on our website, esd.wa.gov we are trying to help people navigate through the different benefits in our economic system that are valuable. However, one thing that government centralized COVID-19 web page, that has a link out for the economic recovery and I would encourage folks to go to that URL. And the team, whether it is Tara or the rest of the team can provide you with that link to the centralized Washington state COVID-19 page that then points out health, economic and other resources to try to provide that centralized hub. There’s a part of our overall emergency operations et cetera.
Speaker 4: (38:41)
Jay Inslee: (38:41)
Speaker 4: (38:42)
Two more questions, I think. So we’re going to go to Greg with the Washington Post. Greg.
Jay Inslee: (38:44)
We’re looking for-
I don’t have a question at this time. Thank you.
Jay Inslee: (38:54)
Speaker 4: (38:55)
Okay, so then we’re going to go to [inaudible 00:38:59].
Speaker 5: (38:59)
The White House has proposed federal help, $1,000 check over two month period. Other federal aid. My question is, is the federal aid enough and will it come fast enough?
Jay Inslee: (39:16)
So I haven’t seen the specifics of the proposal, so I don’t really know the economic ramifications of it. I would say a couple things. This is a moment to go big and go fast and to be bold. When you have such a shock to our economy, which we know we are experiencing it. It is not a time for timidity or wrangling. It is time to get the money out the door into people’s pockets. So that we can maintain some degree of momentum in the economy and I couldn’t overstate that. So we are hopeful that the resistance to those kind of big bold things that sometimes paralyzed Congress will not reduce its ability to actually act big here.
Jay Inslee: (39:59)
We’ve made some progress with the first tranche. I think there’s going to be, in my opinion, much more needed. One of the pieces of this is this unemployment piece that I believe is maybe the single most important thing we’ve got to do. The pieces of the puzzle because that gets money to the people who really need it. We’re not all equal economically and these are the folks who really need it. And if we’re going to pump out money, let’s get it to the people who are most needy. Those who are unemployed, who are part time workers, who had been laid off because of the restaurant shutting and the like, those are the most needy people in the country right now. And we got a great way to target it right to them really, really fast. So we hope that this can be done on a congressional letter or action by the president.
Jay Inslee: (40:45)
Now there’s a million other ways to help from the small business loan program to infrastructure investments. I mean, there’s many things we can do that, but I highly recommend this to Congress.
Speaker 4: (40:57)
Final question, we’re going to David with the Seattle Times.
Yeah, hi governor.
Jay Inslee: (41:03)
I want to ask again about more stringent regulations that we’ve taken so far, things like shelter in place, orders and traffic ordinance. Are you considering members like that? Why or why not? And what factors go into that decision?
Jay Inslee: (41:19)
Well look, this is a day to day decision and there are dozens of factors that go into this. We are intensively studying the epidemiological evidence every day to see what the progress of the virus is. Fortunately we have really good data. That’s the best in the world and analysts and that’s really good. We look at things, for instance in our traffic loads and we use the traffic loads is a bit of a proxy to try to determine if we’ve had a 30% reduction in traffic. That might be somewhat indicative of a reduction in the social interactions that we’re having. We look at on a daily basis of the admissions to our emergency departments and it’s one of the reasons we made the decision on the restaurant closure because we saw the admissions to our emergency departments even before they’re confirmed as COVID-19. We’re looking at the admissions as a proxy potentially for COVID-19 that provoked or promoted the decision tipped us over to go to a closure in the restaurant and bars and entertainment industry.
Jay Inslee: (42:35)
We look at the unemployment and we have to consider that on the impact of Washingtonians. We look at our current medical surge capacity. We evaluate that every single day about how many beds were going up and how many masks are in our stock and how many new medical personnel are coming into the volunteer corps and try to match that up with where we think we might be with the epidemic. So all of those things go into the decisions. We look at it every day or even hourly sometimes to make these tough, tough decisions.
Jay Inslee: (43:13)
So far, I want to say that I’ve been pleased that Washingtonians seem to be pulling together to recognize that because we’re all in this together, we had to take some really tough actions and so far that that seems to be a wide recognition. I’ve heard this kind of from both parties, they recognize it’s not a moment for ideological division. It’s a moment for action and that’s what we’ve done. I hope that answers your question. Rachel, did you have any more? I wanted to come back to you if you had any more. We’re going to see if Rachel had anything. Yes, Rachel, go ahead.
I’m here. No, I was fine. Thank you for checking the [inaudible 00:43:54].
Jay Inslee: (43:54)
Okay. Thank you very much. Be safe. Wash your hands. Thank you.
Speaker 6: (44:00)
Speaker 7: (44:00)
Thank you governor.
Jay Inslee: (44:00)
Thank you. Thank you.
And it’s off.
Speaker 4: (44:08)
Jerry. I just sent you the letter. That [inaudible 00:44:18]. And also the [inaudible 00:44:18] the COVID-19 website. Someone asked about, and I’m not sure people get that. That’s really [inaudible 00:44:31].