Thank you to Thurston Strong partners who helped assemble information related to the phased re-opening of businesses and venues in Washington and Thurston County. This smart-restart link contains general guidance and insights for specific industries and operations. http://thurstonchamber.com/smart-restart-toolkit/
The Department of Commerce has announced $9 million in rent and energy assistance to serve low-income households. Commerce is providing up to $1,000 in rental assistance and up to $500 in energy assistance. For more information, please contact:
Community Action Council of Lewis, Mason & Thurston Counties
3020 Willamette Drive NE Lacey, WA 98516
If you would like to help the Lacey MakerSpace and other partners speed-up production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for Thurston County’s frontline workers, you can now sign up to volunteer at https://laceymakerspace.org/covid-19-updates/thurston-ppe-response/.
The Employment Security Department (ESD) has provided additional information for people who have not successfully qualified or received unemployment insurance benefits. See below if this issue is affecting you:
Unemployment Benefits Adjudication Update
ESD is working night and day to resolve this: This includes clearing out issues for things that aren’t relevant during the COVID-19 crisis. ESD is also adding more staff. Hear more from ESD’s commissioner, Suzi Levine.
While you wait: Check your spam folder—regularly. Adjudicators may be trying to reach you with questions so they can resolve the issues that are blocking your benefits. Did you apply online through eServices? You’ll get messages from firstname.lastname@example.org asking you to sign in. Sign in and respond to those requests within five days—the sooner the better. You may also get follow-up emails from ESD. Make sure you reply to those emails directly.
Answer your phone if you get a call from 800-318-6022. If you miss a call from ESD, the only way to call back is through the main line for the claims center—and it won’t be easy to get through. Do everything you can to answer your phone and avoid calling back through the claims center. ESD’s claims centers are overloaded. The department has seen a 1000% increase in calls to its claims center, and last week was getting 100 calls per second.
What is adjudication? It’s required when ESD needs more information to determine your eligibility for benefits. There are a lot of different reasons for this. Often, the department needs more details about why you’re not working. ESD also needs to verify that you meet requirements, such as being able to work if a job is available.
Why does it hold up payment? All benefits are determined on a case-by-case basis. Your specific circumstances affect what you’re eligible for. ESD needs to confirm things like work history, any job separations, and the hours you’ve worked before the department can determine what you’re eligible for. And, if incorrect information was accidentally submitted, ESD has to verify the correct information before it can approve a claim.
Adjudication requires fact-finding and specialized expertise. Adjudicators go through extensive training to develop deep expertise. They’re different than ESD’s intake staff, who are prepared to answer more general questions. If, for example, employers give ESD information that doesn’t match, adjudicators:
- Do more fact finding to identify the correct information.
- Apply state and federal laws.
- Determine if workers are eligible and the kind of benefits they can get.
Under normal circumstances, it takes around 21 days to adjudicate issues on a claim: These aren’t normal circumstances. ESD has had more applications in the last seven weeks than the previous three and a half years combined. And with so many businesses closed, it’s harder to reach employers if ESD needs to verify information with them.
It’s about due process for everyone: ESD does not want to deny your benefits because of a discrepancy and needs to ensure claims filed under your name are really you. It is important to protect you, and all taxpayers, from fraud. Unfortunately, this does take time. ESD is sorry you have to wait and is working hard to resolve all cases in adjudication as quickly as it can.
Stay tuned for more: ESD will be posting updates on its progress to resolve adjudication cases on its website at esd.wa.gov/unemployment/adjudication starting next week.
The Governor’s Office has released a new dashboard that shows how various factors are being monitored and weighed as the timing of re-opening is considered. It’s available at https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/4_29_DataVisualizations.pdf.
Per Governor Inslee’s direction regarding the partial reopening of certain outdoor activities beginning May 5, the Port of Olympia is making a number of public facilities accessible, including:
- Billy Frank Jr. Park & Trail
- Port Plaza
- Swantown Boatworks
- Swantown Marina boat launch
- Swantown boat launch parking
- Swantown restrooms near BC docks
It has been about 100 days since the first case of COVID-19 was announce in Washington State. As we make progress “flattening the curve,” many of us are wondering if and when it will be safe to reopen the economy. Governor Inslee recently announced reopening would be introduced in phases, to ensure economic recovery does not come at the expense of public safety. To learn more about the Governor’s decision-making process and view data measures that impact timing, visit: https://medium.com/wagovernor/inslee-rolls-out-covid-19-risk-assessment-dashboard-with-data-6bc5bc79324d
While Governor Inslee has extended the general Shelter at Home Order, some industries are beginning to phase back into work and others will follow in the ensuing weeks and months. While official guidance and rules will be issued by the Governor’s office, now is a good time for businesses and customers to begin conceptualizing what a return to work and shopping might look like. Next week, we will be adding a new section to thurstongstrong.org called “Returning to Work.” It will include a variety of resources including general and industry-specific guidelines for re-opening and operating safely. Currently, the State is planning to phase-in business and activities as follows:
USDA has published a comprehensive resource guide to help farmers, ranchers, cooperatives, hospitals, tribes, local government and other rural businesses and families. To download the guide, visit:
Thank you to the Thurston EDC for the following update on SBA loans…
Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provides critical additional funding for workers and small businesses affected by coronavirus. This impacts the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
- If you have already applied for the PPP, you should not have to apply again.
- If you have not applied for the PPP, check with your lender to see if they are SBA approved. If not, consider checking alternative lenders including PayPal, Intuit, Square and Kabbage.
- If you have not applied for EIDL since 4/3 you will have to reapply.
For more information about this new funding: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm987