On Tuesday, April 21st, Governor Jay Inslee unveiled his plan for lifting restrictions imposed by the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. The recovery plan, and the easing of social distancing, is contingent on sustained containment and decrease of COVID-19 cases in Washington State. The plan consists of three main goals:
· Protect the Health and Safety of Washingtonians
· Facilitate a Safe Start and Transition to Economic Recovery
· Support All People and Communities
These three goals overlap with the phases in place to return to a sense of normalcy. For details, please see below:
1) Protect the Health and Safety of Washingtonians
A. This first step aims to protect the health of Washingtonians by establishing a robust testing capacity for everyone with symptoms and identifying who they have been in contact with. Considerations in this phase involve:
i) Providing wide-scale, rapid testing; identification of those who have been exposed; isolation and quarantining individuals who have been exposed; and treating those who have COVID-19
ii) Protection of the most vulnerable by continuing to practice physical distancing; providing PPE screening and testing for health care workers; and ensuring enough protective supplies for the public
iii) Equipping the health care system with surge capacity capable of meeting the needs of a second wave; the collection of data and information to monitor COVID-19 in real time; and preparing for treatments and vaccines
2) Facilitate a Safe Start and Transition to Economic Recovery
A. Economic recovery efforts will require a safe start and healthy workforce. Continued physical distancing, teleworking, and other measures will be necessary as a phase-in approach to work takes place. Considerations in this phase involve:
i) Getting People Back to Work through a phased-in approach that implements thoughtful physical distancing and other public health requirements. Worksites will implement requirements for employers and workers to frequently wash hands and sanitize surfaces. Some measures may even include the construction of barriers and modifications to keep employees, customers, and the public safe
ii) Preparing for a “Safe Start” involves learning from best practices of other businesses as safety standards evolve. Small businesses will likely need assistance with preparedness for new safety standards. Both rural and urban communities will be approached based on data to determine support needed by sector and region
iii) Getting to economic recovery will require public, private, and philanthropic partnerships to invest in communities across the state. Investments in infrastructure and innovation will help with this effort. A consideration to be made in this step will be pathways to make it easier for workers to find new jobs through training and upskilling. Increasing job creation capacity with tools small businesses will need to get back to work and promote supply chain resiliency.
3) Support all People and Communities
A. The state is looking at a landscape where the pandemic will have affected each person in some kind of way. To build capacity to support Washingtonians the Governor has laid out the following guidelines for phase three:
i) Increasing Social and Emotional Supports by building capacity as there is an increased need for substance use, mental, and behavioral health services. Providing services to communities that have disproportionately affected by the pandemic will be necessary to push through recovery
ii) Providing Food and Housing Security. The state will need to secure food and housing for people who no longer have the financial means to provide for themselves. Building sustainable food supply chains will be critical in responding. Working with local farms and industry to guarantee this will provide economic as well as social assistance. Assistance will also be extended to those experiencing, or about to experience, homelessness by helping to find temporary and permanent housing. Support will also be provided to people so they can remain in their existing homes.
iii) Offer Education and Child Care supports. There will be a need to provide school districts, teachers, and students with resources to better facilitate distance learning while also providing academic and social-emotional support for students. The COVID-19 pandemic will also require additional education resources to prevent educational disparities for students of color, English language learners, students with individualized education plans, students in the child welfare or juvenile justice systems, students who are homeless, and those who have not had the same preschool or distance learning opportunities.
iv) Promotion of child-care for unemployed parents returning to work or seeking employment opportunities.