On Friday, March 6, 2020, Gov. Jay Inslee released the following special message to Washington state businesses and workers regarding the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak:
As governor, the safety and well-being of Washingtonians is my top priority, and I want to update you on the work the state and its federal and local partners are doing to mitigate the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 coronavirus. Our heart goes out to those families who have lost loved ones, and our primary mission is to slow the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate further impacts. Your continued leadership and support on all fronts is critical to these efforts.
We are working with our local and federal partners on response efforts. Here are two specific resources that may help you as you make decisions regarding your employees, clients and customers.
- Our State Department of Health, in cooperation with the US Centers for Disease Control, has issued important workplace guidelines. You have an important role to play in sharing accurate information, and I encourage you to regularly visit doh.wa.gov for up-to-the-date statewide guidance. Local public health officials are also posting guidance based on their assessment of local conditions.
- COVID-19 has multiple economic impacts including workers having to stay home, interruptions to supply chains, disruptions to small businesses and hourly workers, and export-dependent businesses struggling to deliver products to key international markets. I convened a state COVID-19 Economic Retention and Recovery Taskforce, which rapidly compiled a List of Resources for Businesses and Workers Impacted by COVID-19. This list is posted on my homepage (wa.gov) and is regularly updated. These resources include financial assistance such as certain tax filing extensions, payment plans and penalty waivers. It includes export assistance, to help identify alternative markets, obtain capital advances and defray the cost of trade promotion and training activities. It includes insurance assistance to help answer questions about insurance coverage related to COVID-19. And it includes employer and worker assistance to help keep highly-trained employees on the job, and provide benefits to workers who need to take time off from work due to serious illness or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. If COVID-19 causes mass employment disruption or closures, our state Employment Security Department (ESD) can respond with Rapid Response services and funding to help impacted workers connect with unemployment benefits, retraining and other important social services.
In addition, the business and labor communities have an important leadership role to play, and I have been encouraged by the response to my call to action. I am hearing many stories of employers doing the right thing and helping to keep wages intact for workers who are working from home or cannot work due to COVID-19. For those who are dependent on state services to maintain economic security, we are working diligently with our agencies to ensure as many impacted workers as possible are served. ESD has a resource here.
Our taskforce is also working with large bankers, financial associations, telecoms, utilities and major employers to discuss what they can do to provide relief for companies and workers negatively impacted by COVID-19. We are working to compile a list of these resources, including favorable credit terms for firms that encounter cash flow problems; debt and late penalty forgiveness for workers; and deferring bills, waiving fees, and providing discounts and no-interest loans. My office and our emergency management team will continue to amplify this corporate support.
Finally, we are working diligently with our state and federal lawmakers to significantly increase funding for public health and economic development, while facilitating rules and regulations that could provide relief to businesses and workers impacted by COVID-19.
We are all leaders in this effort and, on behalf of 7.5 million Washingtonians, I want to thank you for your continued partnership in this critical effort.
Very truly yours,
Gov. Jay Inslee