In a press conference today, in between ship metaphors ("like when we face any squall, we know we’re going to get through that squall") and reflections about his time as a high school basketball sensation ("in my recollection, I was a real leaper"), Gov. Jay Inslee announced new measures to provide relief for people impacted by COVID-19.
Inslee has introduced a statewide residential eviction moratorium for evictions related to a lack of payment. That moratorium will last 30 days.
Additionally, Inslee expanded help for out-of-work workers.
"In these times," Inslee said, "we are experiencing a rapidly growing number of workers off the job for lengths of time that exceeds many workers’ leave benefits, and workers that are not covered by our current safety net,” Inslee said.
He waived the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. Last week, the Washington Employment Security Department saw a 150% increase in unemployment claims, according to Suzi LeVine, the department's commissioner. Washingtons SharedWork program, where employees with reduced hours can make up missing wages with federal funds, has seen a 500% increase, LeVine said.
Currently, traditional workers (not counting gig economy, independent contractors, and freelancers) are eligible for state unemployment benefits. Inslee has asked Trump to make a national disaster declaration to get unemployment insurance to more people, like those who are ineligible because they have "not accumulated 680 hours of work."
"This is very important for families and for the economy to make sure that money gets distributed so those families can be good consumers and keep those dollars flowing," Inslee said.
Reporters peppered Inslee with questions about rumors regarding an impending shelter-in-place order in Washington. Inslee dismissed these. "We could spend a lot of time trying to chase down rumors," Inslee admonished, "we’ve gotta focus on today’s challenges today."