In a press conference Thursday, Governor Jay Inslee addressed President Donald Trump's proposed three-phase plan to reopen the economy.
Inslee noted that, while he approved of the President's decision to not interfere on the state-by-state response, Washington does not yet fall into the first phase of restarting the economy.
Inslee said that the state has not yet begun to see a downward curve in COVID-19 cases, though he hopes that the trend will be on its way soon.
Before Washington can begin to reopen, Inslee said there are two things that will need to be true:
- The infection rate continues to decrease
- Testing and contact tracing capacity increases dramatically
Inslee said that until the state has both, physical distancing will continue.
Inslee was joined by Suzi LeVine, Commissioner of Washington's Employment Security Department, who outline an update that will be expanding the state's unemployment assistance. The update, which will happen on Saturday,April 18, will have three key parts, according to Levine.
Those parts are:
- An expansion of unemployment eligibility
- Increase weekly unemployment benefits by $600
- Expanding and extending how long someone can be on unemployment
According to Levine, lines and systems may be down Saturday while the update takes place but the department will be back up and running in full on Sunday. Levine did warn that because the expansion is coming quickly, the site itself will not be the most optimal user experience. However, she said, that was the trade off needed in order to get money into people's pockets faster.