Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The 2020 legislative session is over. While I plan on sending out a more comprehensive issue update in the near future, I wanted to share some important information about the coronavirus, or COVID-19, and the resources available to our community, workers and employers.
We have a website that is being continually updated, here. It contains contact information, updated announcements, as well as information and guidance for both employers and employees. You can also access the Spokane Regional Health District here, or call them at (509) 324-1500.
This has been – and will continue to be – a difficult situation for many workers who find themselves laid off or out of a job completely. In addition, many small businesses are being hurt as the state and local economies struggle with the shutdowns and social distancing in place.
The Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) is standing by to assist employers and employees impacted by the COVID-19 situation. You can visit their specific coronavirus page here. Or, if you need to apply for unemployment:
- By Phone: Call the Claims Center at 800-318-6022 Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (except holidays) as follows:
- Monday: New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-3. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
- Tuesday: New applications for those with Social Security numbers ending in 0-6. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: Everyone (Social Security numbers ending in 0-9) can submit new applications. Open for questions about weekly claims and other general questions.
- Persons with hearing or speaking impairments can call Washington Relay Service 711
If you attempt to apply online, you'll need to create a Secure Access Washington account, which you can do here. There is a “pre-form” that you fill out to see if you qualify. When it comes to the question of why you are out of a job, the correct answer for this is “lack of work.” The ESD may change their form to have an option that says “direct cause from COVID-19” in the future, but for now, you would need to choose “lack of work.”
An individual still has to have worked at least 680 hours over the past year, which works out to be about 13 hours a week. If they do not have a year's history of at least 680 hours, they will not qualify for unemployment. Although, this may change in the future.
It should also be noted, one of the last bills we passed this session directs $200 million to help with the coronavirus crisis. House Bill 2965 takes $175 million from the rainy day fund for state and local agencies to fight the disease and another $25 million to aid businesses that have shut down because of the outbreak.
The legislation also allows the state Board of Education to grant emergency waivers to high school students who won't be able to meet certain graduation requirements if their schools are closed for an extended time period.
If at all possible, during this time, be a leader in your neighborhood and community. If you know of someone who needs help, reach out to them. If you know of someone who is isolated, find out if they need food or supplies, and deliver it to their porch. Small acts of kindness go a long way. Please also remember to have compassion for those affected by the illness. We will get through this together.