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BREAKING NEWS …  According to Senator Ann Rivers (18th Legislative District), whose office was briefed today by the Employment Security Department (ESD), the unemployment check fraud case is now approaching $1 billion in lost state funds.

Originally, the suspected fraud loss was $350 million.

“The ESD fraud case is beyond anything originally suspected,” said Rivers. “Nearly $1 billion has been lost to Nigeria and other fraudsters.”

Rivers said the people of Washington have been subject to a series of data breaches over the last several years, which includes Zappos, Primera Blue Cross, and Equifax. This past year, Rivers was the Senate Republican lead on the Data Privacy Bill, which passed unanimously in the Senate, but was blocked in the House.

“I knew this was going to be a problem,” said Rivers. “The partisan breakdown in the House is what killed this bill. I worked it very hard. I knew we had to act, and this is unfortunate.”

The bill would have locked down the state’s consumer data to prevent hacking, requiring two-factor authentication, among other security measures.

“The hackers have been waiting for the right moment to attack an underprepared Employment Security Division,” said Rivers. “COVID gave them that opportunity. My office was overwhelmed with calls of people needing help filing unemployment.”

Today, Rivers was notified by ESD that each caucus can help only 20 people per week. 

“I was able to get in and help people get the unemployment benefits they deserve, and I was told by ESD I can only help one person a week,” Rivers said. “This is ludricious. Period. That’s like saying to a mother with five children on the Titanic she now must choose her favorite child.”

Rivers said the state needs to act.

“It’s not enough to label the problem, we need to change the leadership to right this ship,” said Rivers. “Families desperately need this money and they’re not getting it.”

 Suzie LaVine is the current ESD Director. 

Rivers is pushing for a special legislative session in June, and that the Republican caucus will demand LaVine’s termination. 

More to come.

OLYMPIA, Wash — Governor Jay Inslee extended the state’s stay home order through May 4, which is one month past the original “stay home, stay healthy” end date.

Inslee said that the Department of Health (DOH) data collected on the spread of the novel coronavirus shows cases are still on the rise in Washington state.

“We unfortunately have yet to see the full weight of this virus in our state. This order is not only justified, it is morally necessary,” he said. “We are confident in the steps we have taken but we cannot lose steam in the middle of this fight. May 4th is the soonest that we could possibly achieve our ends to keep our loved ones safe.”

The stay home order was originally issued on March 23, and initially was slated to end this week. Inslee said there was a possibility that the mandate could be extended after May 4.

“Let’s pitch in to make it the last date.” 

The DOH said the following today:

”Our social distancing efforts are beginning to ‘flatten the curve‘ here in Washington. Models from the University of Washington suggest that we may see 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 in this state, and it is clear that more people will die if our social distancing efforts stop right now. That’s why, today, Gov. Inslee extended his ’Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order for another month until May 4. By staying home, we are keeping our communities as healthy as we can. We are slowing down the spread of the virus and buying more time for the state to build hospital capacity.“

Numbers.  DOH has had some technical difficulties, but the latest numbers are now updated. As of 11:59 p.m. on April 1, 79,418 people in Washington have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 6,585 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 262 have died of the disease.

“We must continue this isolating act of community togetherness—staying in our homes as much as possible to protect ourselves and people we love. While we are at home, let’s pay attention to the reasons we are doing this. Connect with the people you love. Make online purchases from the small businesses that give your community life. Order takeout from the restaurants you miss the most. Notice the gifts we’ve given the earth in this time—the skies in famously smoggy Los Angeles are clear and blue. The carbon monoxide emissions in New York City are down 50 percent compared to last year this time.”

“Let’s take care of ourselves and our relationships. Think about how you want to emerge from this crisis. Rested, looking forward to opportunities to be with your loved ones, ready to keep the air clean by working at home more often. Take care of your body with nourishing foods, lots of sleep, deep breaths, and exercise. Focus on the parts of your life that bring you energy and joy: clean, cook, nurture, garden, sing, play games, create, love, read, write. Stay connected with others and maintain your social networks. Go for a walk and wave to your neighbors from six feet away. Ask them if they are well and if they need anything. Take care of your mental health. If you feel so overwhelmed you struggle to get through the day, call your health care provider, therapist, or mental health provider and set up a telemedicine appointment. Check out these resources to help support your mental health or that of a loved one:”

And if you are in crisis, don’t hesitate to call the 24-Hour Crisis Line at 866-427-4747 or text HEAL to 741741 to get confidential text access to a trained crisis counselor any time of the day or night.

Roundabout
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The following letter, authored by 18th District Rep. Larry Hoff and signed on to by 22 other lawmakers, was sent to Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday, March 27.

Dear Governor Inslee:

Our state, along with the country and the rest of the world, is experiencing a challenge of immense size and scope that has radically altered the daily routine of life for so many.

Your task of balancing public safety with individual rights is not an easy one. However, we wonder if your Stay Home—Stay Healthy order might be a bit too narrow in what it allows Washingtonians to take part in over the next two weeks and perhaps longer. 

One of the four essential activities permitted under your order is: “Engaging in outdoor exercise activities, such as walking, hiking, running or biking, but only if appropriate social distancing practices are used.”

We were surprised to see recreational fishing not included on that list, and even more surprised when the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife closed the activity to the public altogether.

This is a time of deep anxiety and fear for Washingtonians, many of whom are struggling to find a way to decompress and enjoy life amidst the chaos. It’s a fact of life that very few activities are as relaxing as casting a line from the banks of a river or from a boat in the middle of a lake. It’s an escape, much like walking, hiking, running or biking.

It’s also a fact that many of our veterans recreationally fish, whether to simply clear their minds or to treat symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. As with all Washingtonians, we are concerned for their well-being during this time, and want to ensure they don’t suffer as a result of Stay Home—Stay Healthy.

We firmly believe there is a way to balance public health while also allowing folks to fish on Washington’s many rivers and lakes. We would ask you to consider adding recreational fishing to your list of allowable essential activities under Stay Home—Stay Healthy.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

Representative Larry Hoff, 18th Legislative District

The Building Industry Association (BIA) released this statement today:

Today, Gov. Jay Inslee issued official guidance that “construction is not considered an essential activity” in the Stay-at-Home Order he announced on Monday. As a result, all construction – residential and commercial – must shut down during the two weeks in which the order is in place. 

Beginning at midnight tonight, Wednesday, Mar. 25, 2020, when the order takes effect, no construction will be allowed until at least April 8, 2020. The only exception for residential construction is for emergency repairs. The order could also be extended.  

Gov. Inslee is one of only two governors who have issued a statewide “Stay at Home” order that does not designate housing construction as “essential.”

Section 3 (Point d) of the Order does allow businesses to secure their jobsites and equipment following the order taking effect tonight:

“For purposes of this Proclamation, minimum basic operations are the minimum activities necessary to maintain the value of the business’ inventory, preserve the condition of the business’ physical plant and equipment, ensure security, process payroll and employee benefits, facilitate employees of the business being able to continue to work remotely from their residences, and related functions.”

Olympia, WA — Washington Governor Jay Inslee announced Monday evening at ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order to slow down — and eventually contain — the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Tonight, Inslee signed a statewide proclamation for a STAY HOME, STAY HEALTHY order in Washington state, similar to orders the public has seen in states like California, which is also combatting this virus.

Here are the main points of his order:

  • It will require every Washingtonian to stay at home unless they are pursuing an essential activity, like shopping for groceries, going to a doctor’s appointment, or going to work at an essential business, which are exempt from this order. 
  • It will ban ALL gatherings of people for social, spiritual and recreational purposes.  This applies to BOTH private and public gatherings.  And, yes, this applies to every type of gathering, including some of the most deeply meaningful gatherings in our communities, like weddings and funerals.  These celebrations of life, these important moments to gather with loved ones, must be postponed.
  • It will close all businesses except essential businesses (this will be further clarified).
  • While some would call this an order to “shelter in place,” that’s not what this does. It is still safe to go outside using social distancing; the grocery stores and other essential businesses will remain open.

Inslee’s full list of essential critical infrastructure workers

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, health care services, child care providers, transportation, financial services, the defense industry, critical local government operations, and media are considered essential. To-go and delivery from restaurants will still be allowed. Inslee’s office provided a full list of industries that are essential, building on the federal government’s and California’s definition of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.
  • Life will go on, but with this in mind: Stay Home, Stay Healthy.
  • This order builds upon the early and unprecedented steps we took to protect Washingtonians, including the closure of schools, restaurants, entertainment venues and other businesses where people congregate. Inslee said the state has been thoughtful and deliberate in making these tough choices.
COVID-19
www.MyHeavensBest.com
  • The governor has been very clear on the need for Washingtonians to stay home, and while most Washingtonians are doing their part, some are still not grasping the seriousness of this pandemic.
  • People will need to stay home unless absolutely necessary. This means the state will be banning all gatherings.
  • The order on gatherings and going out will take effect immediately.
  • Close non-essential businesses with in-office personnel functions and other public places, with the intention to reduce social interactions where this highly contagious virus can spread.
  • Closings on businesses will happen 48 hours after signing the order.
  • Many businesses can continue to operate using telework and that can and should continue.
  • For businesses where individuals cannot work from home, the governor’s office will provide guidance on what businesses are essential, building on the federal government’s and California’s definition of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.
  • All grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, food supply chains, and other thing necessary for continued operations will remain open. We expect businesses and residents to voluntarily comply, but we will be discussing in the coming days any enforcement mechanisms if residents and businesses are not complying.  
  • If the function of your business is not listed but a business believes that it is essential or it is an entity providing essential services or functions, they will be able to request designation as an essential business. Businesses and entities that provide other essential services must implement rules that help facilitate social distancing of at least six feet.
  • Please note: the governor’s office and the Emergency Operations Center would greatly appreciate the help of our partners and leaders to spread the word that people must avoid the impulse to overstock – if everyone sticks to their normal buying habits, we’ll have enough to make sure everyone – including our health care workers, seniors and other people who are ill – have the supplies and items they need.

As of Sunday night, according to the Washington Department of Health, 30,875 people in Washington have been tested for COVID-19. Of those, 1,996 people in Washington have tested positive for COVID-19, and 95 have died of the disease.