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Sign in a Ferndale home window to the increased number of pedestrians during the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 disease (April 2, 2020). Photo courtesy of Barbara Ingram

Governor Inslee extends Stay at Home order

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee held a televised press conference in Olympia today, April 2nd, at 5pm to announce he was extending his statewide “Stay Home, Stay Healthy”  order through May 4th.

Inslee had issued the order on March 23rd and at that time said the order would last for at least 2 weeks with the possibility of it being extended further.

Inslee took to Twitter to point out “Through no fault of their own, more Washingtonians will be in a financially-perilous position because of it. We must find ways to support them,” and that he had used his “emergency powers” to:

  • increase unemployment insurance access
  • prohibit evictions for not paying rent
  • provide utility ratepayer assistance
  • make tax payment flexible

The original order required every Washingtonian to stay at home, except for people:

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  • Pursuing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries or going to a medical appointment
  • Getting takeout food (Food deliveries also are permitted)
  • Going to work at an essential business
  • Going outside for walks and exercise, as long as social distancing of six feet is maintained

Given the requirements for many businesses to temporarily close and layoff workers under the order, there was a 3,513% increase in initial claims for unemployment benefits statewide the week of March 22-28 compared with the same time last year and this was a 41% increase over the previous week.

While many have been able to file new and continued claims, we know this deluge of demand has made it challenging for many more to do so. To help people access benefits, we recently improved our ESD website, esd.wa.gov, to assist individuals applying for unemployment benefits online. We also increased our capacity to help more people over the phone by adding hundreds of additional staff to our Unemployment Insurance team and by expanding our call center hours to include Saturdays. We’re using Sundays to return calls.

Employment Security Commissioner, Suzi LeVine – April 2, 2020

Today’s extension did not add any new restrictions.

Locally, there are many signs of this order including closed signs on businesses, most downtown parking spaces are open and far less traffic on the roads while at the same time there is a noticeable increase in pedestrians on sidewalks.

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Ferndale area grocers and many restaurants have been able to stay open as essential businesses. Some restaurants have relied on their abilities to accept orders and payments online in order to provide contactless delivery options while others have closed their dining areas, switching to strictly delivery and to-go service.

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