Covid-19 in Washington State

Is it getting better?

Covid-19+in+Washington+State

Gelila Asgedom and Joshua Akiyama

Homelessness in Washington:

Job cuts in Washington state have led to the increase of homelessness rates. Homelessness rates in Washington have shot up due to the lack of jobs because of Covid-19. Washington state alone has been given $98,250,127 to help out the homeless or people who are on the brink of losing their homes.  Many people have lost their homes and become homeless because they lost their job and couldn’t afford to live at the place of housing any longer. The plan set up by Washington states:

  1. Make more emergency shelters available for homeless individuals and families.
  2. Operate emergency shelters by providing food, rent, security, maintenance, repair, fuel, equipment, insurance, utilities, furnishings, and supplies necessary for their operation.
  3. Provide hotel/motel Vouchers for homeless families and individuals.
  4. Provide essential services to people experiencing homelessness including childcare, education services, employment assistance, outpatient health services, legal services, mental health services, substance abuse treatment services, and transportation.
  5. To prevent individuals from becoming homeless and rapidly rehouse homeless individuals. 

Coronavirus cases have risen dramatically in King County’s shelters and housing for homeless people, and public health officials reported Monday that a man died in a facility for people with no home to quarantine in. People that have become homeless during the covid outbreak are in shelters, but due to the rise in job cuts and more and more people becoming homeless, those shelters are starting to get packed with people.

 

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School/online learning:

The decision to close schools is regularly made by local superintendents in response to weather and other events in order to maintain the health and safety of students and staff. During a health-related outbreak, districts must close if directed to by their local health officer. Schools are finding it harder for the younger kids to do online learning, making the younger kids their priority. For the preschool – 1st grade, these are their fundamental years. These years are their first year of school and doing them online doesn’t give them the full learning experience they would get if they were in person. Currently, the state expects schools and school districts to be:

  1. Communicating regularly with students, families, staff, and the larger school community. 
  2. Practicing routine cleaning and disinfecting procedures of commonly touched surfaces. 
  3. Maintaining an open line of communication with their local public health officer. 
  4. Intentionally and persistently combatting stigma through information sharing. COVID-19 is not at all connected to race, ethnicity, or nationality.
  5. Actively engaging in contingency planning for the possibility of extended school closures.

For the kids who rely on school lunches, schools in Washington have started doing lunch pickups once or twice a week. Many districts, parents, and guardians have expressed concern about student absences related to COVID-19 safety concerns. State law requires school leaders to excuse absences due to safety concerns as well as absences due to illness, a health condition, or a medical appointment. For the kids with special needs and need in-person learning, “After an extended closure, districts are responsible for reviewing how the closure impacted the delivery of special education and related services to students eligible for special education services.” So does online learning help or hurt the kids?

Small businesses:

The U.S. has been one of the countries that have been hit the hardest by Covid-19.  Unfortunately, Washington state and its small businesses have not been spared.  I have been to some small businesses in my town and I have noticed less employees and fewer products on the shelves.  The owner of a small store told me she’s lost 80% of all revenue and she had to let go of all of her employees.  That is an extreme case but it still shows Covid-19 has taken a toll on the small businesses in Washington.  Many of them have temporarily closed and some have closed their doors forever.  This has led to many people being unemployed.   

Thankfully, there are many programs that will help prevent small businesses from going under.  One of those programs is the EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan).  The EIDL provides temporary economic relief to small businesses and non-profit organizations that are struggling because of Covid-19.  The AWB (Association of Washington Business) has launched a website to aid businesses in safely re-opening.  Because coronavirus is still looming large re-opened businesses have had to change how they do business.  On June 26th Governor Inslee ordered mandatory use of facemasks.  All businesses in Washington must require customers and employees to wear masks.  Based on what county you are in there are different rules businesses must follow.  This chart will have all the details https://coronavirus.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05/PhasedReopeningChart.pdf.  As of 10-21-20, there are 22 counties in Phase 2 and 19 counties in Phase 3.  

In the past seven months, small businesses in Washington have taken a beating from Covid-19.  And now slowly but surely they are starting to recover.  But as Covid-19 cases start to rise across Washington our small businesses may be in for a rough time ahead.