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Washington updates COVID-19 response

CAMP MURRAY — President Donald Trump approved a major disaster declaration for Washington Sunday.

Gov. Jay Inslee asked for the declaration in a letter to President Trump on Friday to unlock a host of additional federal assistance programs for Washingtonians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public health emergency in Washington state by declaring a major disaster and taking the first step toward additional assistance for Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “However, today’s declaration does not unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers and families who are badly hurting. We will continue working with our federal partners to deliver the full suite of disaster assistance that is sorely needed in our state, such as expanded unemployment benefits for workers who lose their paychecks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Sunday’s declaration grants the state’s request for assistance with crisis counseling and training to address the impact of the outbreak on the mental health of affected Washingtonians. Other disaster assistance programs requested in Inslee’s letter remain under review by the White House, including expanded unemployment assistance and basic food benefits.

Inslee also named retired Navy Vice Admiral Raquel C. Bono head of Washington state COVID-19 health care response team on Sunday.  She will advise the governor and state agencies on actions to address the capacity and strain across the health care system. She will work closely with acute care facilities, long-term care facilities, clinics, tribal facilities, and the federal government to ensure medical staffing needs are met, as well as develop standard protocols across facilities and coordinate with the state Emergency Operations Center to operationalize statewide efforts.

President Trump announced Sunday today that the USNS Mercy will not be sent to Washington state. The Governor tweeted Sunday that while disappointed with the news, he appreciates the federal field hospitals that will be sent to WA. We will continue working to get the resources necessary to care for Washingtonians.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission (Parks), Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Sunday the closure of all state campgrounds across Washington to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Campgrounds will remain closed through April 30. Day use areas and trails remain open.

On March 21, the Washington State Department of Health received a shipment from the federal Strategic National Stockpile including: Gowns: 26,459; Gloves: 104,250; Masks: 133,760; Suits: 13.

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