Gov. Inslee Announces Eviction Moratorium Extension
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Last week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced a multitude of resources for Washington state citizens, including extension of the state’s eviction moratorium and a new phase for vaccine eligibility, as well as the resumption of long-term care visitations for the general public. The governor also announced a new tool to help people find COVID-19 vaccination appointments near them.
Originally instituted last year, the state’s eviction moratorium was set to remain in effect until April 17, however the moratorium has now been extended until June 30 of this year.
“The pandemic’s economic toll continues to burden many Washingtonians, particularly tenants,” Inslee said during his announcement. “People need these supports right now. There is no other way to look at it.”
In conjunction with the eviction moratorium, Inslee signed two additional proclamations that will benefit Washingtonians.
One regards an extension of the state’s utility shutoff moratorium, where the state’s utility companies are not allowed to disconnect or charge late fees for their services to Washington residents until July 31, 2021.
The other focuses on debt garnishment, which prohibits debt collectors from collecting federal pandemic-related payments from consumers.
The governor further announced that Washington is on track to vaccinate close to 5 million people by the end of the month, thanks to the state’s vaccine expansion of eligibility requirements.
Starting March 31, those who have two or more comorbidities, are between the ages of 60 and 64, and those who either live or work in congregate settings will become eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“As we advance through the next tiers of vaccine eligibility, we want to again encourage the people of Washington to continue to be patient,” said Michele Roberts, one of the DOH leaders for the state’s vaccine rollout.
Roberts continued, “Vaccine supply continues to increase and we have just a little more than a month before all adults are eligible on May 1st.
“Until then we encourage people to sign up as soon as you’re eligible, go get that shot in the arm, and help us bring an end to the pandemic.”
The vaccination progress has led Washington state to eliminate the visitation phases of long-term care and nursing home facilities, thereby allowing both indoor and outdoor visitations to resume.
According to Inslee’s office, outdoor visitations are preferred for those seeking to visit these facilities, however indoor visitations are acceptable if visitors or residents are fully vaccinated.
Indoor visitations are also permitted so long as these facilities are not currently experiencing coronavirus outbreaks among the residents.
“These new visitation guidelines are very welcome after a year that was filled with so much hardship and isolation,” said Bill Moss, assistant secretary, Department of Social and Health Services.
Moss continued, “Thanks to the effectiveness of the vaccine, infection control procedures and previous visitation restrictions, we are now seeing a steady decline in facilities reporting COVID-19, which means long-term care facilities can begin implementing a process for in person visits.”
In an effort to help Washingtonians get access to a COVID-19 vaccine, the state has partnered with multiple private enterprises through its Vaccine Action Command and Coordination System Center.
“Our success in getting more than 2.5 million doses administered to date is thanks to the efforts of many dedicated providers and public health professionals, as well as the National Guard,” Inslee said.
“These public-partnerships with small and large Washington-based employers have helped us improve delivery of the vaccine to the people of Washington.”
Through a joint partnership between the state and companies such as Microsoft, Starbucks, Expedia, Costco, Prota Ventures and others, Washington’s Department of Health launched the latest version of its vaccine locator web tool, Vaccinate WA.
With Vaccinate WA, Washingtonians can find various vaccine options from multiple vaccine providers in their local area. The tool is available in multiple languages.
In addition to the launch of Vaccinate WA, the state is partnering with Amazon to improve its customer service hotline for scheduling vaccine appointments.
Starting this week, Amazon customer service representatives will join the state’s existing hotline representatives in an effort to reduce wait times and make vaccine scheduling easier for individuals.
Looking towards the vaccination effort in the near future, Challenge Seattle, an organization of CEOs from 20 of the largest employers in the Seattle area, has recently published a playbook for mass vaccination sites.
This resource, for public and private organizations running or planning on setting up clinics, will help centralize best practices and lessons learned through the vaccine administration process in Washington state.
“It’s another great day to be from Washington state,” Inslee said. “From protecting people’s housing to helping people see their loved ones and getting more Washingtonians vaccinated, we’re continuing to move forward toward recovery.”
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