COVID-19 and business as usual?

The latest Coronavirus Recommendations for Businesses and Organizations

If you believe that you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms, please contact King County Health at 206-477-3977. 

For general, non-emergency information, please contact 1-800-525-0127.


As COVID-19 concerns continue to evolve, businesses and organizations should stay up-to-date on the latest health and wellness recommendations to help ease employee and customer concerns while preventing the spread of the virus. Here’s a breakdown on where to get updates, and what to keep in mind.
 
Keep up with the latest recommendations from Washington State and King County Public Health:
As a best practice, follow the advice of King County Public Health for updates on the coronavirus outbreak. Businesses should also familiarize themselves with the Washington State Department of Health’s workplace resources and recommendations . As of this posting, King County Public Health reaffirms that coronavirus illness is relatively mild for most people , however they encourage businesses and organizations to remain highly-aware of the situation and do their part to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The most important step is to encourage any ill employee to stay home .
1. Preventative Measures
It bears repeating: wash your hands, avoid touching your face excessively, cover your cough, avoid crowded places, and stay home if you're feeling ill.

The CDC has provided resources with further instructions to prepare homes, workplaces, schools and more >

The CDC has also released an "Implementation of Mitigation Strategies" to provide further information regarding the containment of COVID-19 >
BUSINESS SUPPORT
The Employment Security Department has programs available to your business. They have implemented emergency rules that may help you and your business in dealing with temporary layoffs, isolation, and quarantine. An  overview of available benefits can be found here  and details about available programs are below.

IMPORTANT: Please keep detailed records of how COVID-19 is impacting your business for any potential assistance or relief that may be provided in the future.
2. Excise Tax Filing Assistance

The Department of Revenue will work with businesses that cannot file or pay their excise taxes on time due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Affected businesses may qualify for  filing extensions  or  penalty waivers .

Read more >
3. Export Voucher Program

The Washington State Dept of Commerce Export Assistance Team is available to help companies that need vouchers to help pay for some of the costs for certain business needs.  

Find out if you are eligible >
4. Working Capital Advances

The US Small Business Administration has a program to help small businesses get working capital advances from lenders on export orders and receivables as well as letters of credit.

Learn more about the Export Working Capital Program here >

Export Express Loans are also available to qualifying businesses >
5. SharedWork Program

SharedWork is a voluntary business sustainability program that provides flexibility to retain employees at reduced hours. This is a little known but powerful program to help workers stay employed while drawing needed benefits.

More information >
6. Temporary Layoffs

Businesses may request to place an employee (or group of employees) on stand by for 8 weeks and your employee can collect benefits without having to look for other work.

More information >
WORKER RESOURCES
If you lost your job due to COVID-19-related layoffs, you may be eligible for Unemployment Benefits. If you or an immediate family member you care for is directly infected, you may qualify for state Paid Family and Medical Leave. Both are administered by the Employment Security Department, but they are different programs with separate eligibility requirements. It is important to note that you cannot receive benefits from both program at the same time.
7. Unemployment Benefits

Unemployment benefits are made available to workers who have been let go from their jobs through no fault of their own and aim to partially replace regular earnings and help meet expenses. The state has relaxed qualifications standards and expedited processing of benefits during the coronavirus emergency.

Individuals seeking unemployment benefits need to  provide personal and employment information  and can  apply online  or by calling 1-800-318-6022.

More information >
8. Paid Family and Medical Leave

If you are sick with COVID-19, as with any other illness, a healthcare provider must certify that you are unable to work in order to qualify for Paid Family and Medical Leave. Quarantine (and school closures) are not qualifying events under this program. It is recommended that you use employer-provided paid sick leave if available.

You do not have to be employed to collect PFML benefits, but you  cannot  collect Unemployment Benefits simultaneously.

More information >
PUBLIC AWARENESS
Governor Jay Inslee has signed an order prohibiting events with 250+ attendees as a necessary precaution to limit the spread of COVID-19 and enforce the importance of social distancing. This order does  not  include retailers or restaurants.
9. Governor's Orders

Events with fewer than 250 attendees must take the following steps to minimize risks:

  1. Older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions are encouraged not to attend
  2. Social distancing recommendations must be met (ie limit contact of people within 6 feet from each other for 10 minutes or longer)
  3. Employees must be screened for coronavirus symptoms each day and excluded if symptomatic
  4. Proper hand hygiene and sanitation must be readily available to all attendees and employees
  5. Environmental cleaning guidelines from the US CDC are followed

More information >
10. King County Public Health Update

Stay updated on the latest public health news through the  King County Public Health Blog >

The Washington Department of Health has published these fact-sheets to help residents decide what steps to take:

COVID-19 BUSINESS RESOURCES
Employer Impact Resources

Public Health Resources

NEWS FROM THE CITY OF RENTON
From Mayor Armondo Pavone’s “Mayor’s Newsletter”
March 6, 2020

Yesterday, I issued a proclamation of local emergency for the city due to the public health impacts of the COVID-19. The proclamation supports measures to be taken to protect public health, safety and welfare within the city. Because the city may require supplemental assistance if the severity of the event goes beyond the capabilities of local resources, the emergency declaration enables the city to call in those additional resources.

In light of this situation, we will be closing many of our  community centers and the  Renton History Museum for the next few weeks as we continue to assess the most appropriate response. The  Renton Senior Activity Center is closed and the essential drop-in lunch program will now feature sack lunches. They will be available for drive through pick-up only Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. While we do not take lightly the frustration and inconvenience this causes, we are convinced this is the best option.

Public Health - Seattle & King County also strongly recommends that gatherings be limited to fewer than 10 people. You can imagine how this affects the operation of a city the size of Renton. In support of this, the fate of the March 16  city council meeting will be decided next week (the March 9 council meeting was cancelled because of council schedules). We are reaching out to civic organizations, individuals and businesses who have upcoming events and asking that they follow our lead.

For those of you who need to conduct business with us, city hall remains open, but I ask that if at all possible you handle that work online or via telephone. Permits business licenses  (new or renew) and  fee payments can all be conducted via our website.

The city leadership team has received several briefings this week from health and emergency management professionals to keep us current on the latest developments. We currently have City of Renton  Emergency Management staff embedded in King County’s Emergency Operations Center to allow us the most up-to-date information on which to base our decisions. We are also working closely with our community stakeholders and coordinating our communications and strategies. 

The containment of coronavirus is an ever-evolving situation with all events happening in real time. Because of this, your best source for the most up-to-date information is Public Health - Seattle & King County  and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . We’ve established a  coronavirus page on our website that mirrors a lot of their information and also has status updates on city facilities and events. I’d like to commend our staff for their quick reactions and creative solutions when issues arise and for their willingness to roll up their sleeves and work the situation.

In the days to come we will continue to use the recommendations from county and state health officials to guide our decision-making process. When new information is available we will share with you via all our resources.

Be assured that we are totally committed to protecting our residents in every way possible. The financial impact to our state is already exceptional, in the coming days it will be important for us to not allow uncertainty and undue fear keep us from supporting our local businesses.
NEWS FROM THE RENTON SCHOOL DISTRICT
From Randy Matheson, Executive Director Community Relations
Renton School District
March 11, 2020


We are writing to inform our school community that Hazen High School will remain closed this week and will reopen on Thursday, March 19, 2020.  All other schools continue to remain open.  The decision regarding Hazen was informed by the most recent guidance provided by Public Health – Seattle & King County and made out of an abundance of caution. Fourteen days is the incubation period for COVID-19 so Hazen will remain closed for 14 days from the date that students and staff were last on campus. Hazen High School staff will return to school on Wednesday, March 18 in preparation for students returning on Thursday. While the school is still closed, Public Health recommends that students and staff should stay home as much as possible and avoid large social gatherings in order to help to reduce the potential for transmission.
 
At this time, only one student at Hazen High School has been confirmed through laboratory testing to have COVID-19. This student is no longer ill and has been cleared by their health care professionals to return to school.   There have not been any additional confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Hazen. We provided information to Public Health about a small number of other students and staff reporting illness that could be consistent with COVID-19. Some of those have been tested; while some results have returned negative, other results are currently pending. The school has been cleaned and disinfected multiple times and poses no health risks.
 
Public Health followed-up with those individuals who have symptoms but is unable to determine if their illnesses are caused by COVID-19, influenza, or another cold virus as influenza and cold viruses cause similar symptoms as COVID-19.
 
During the closure, Nutrition Services will provide breakfast and lunch meals to Hazen students and adjustments to learning plans are being made.
 
At this time, Public Health continues to recommend that schools stay open to provide important services to students.
 
As COVID-19 spreads through King County, there is the potential that there may be a new diagnosis in the near and ongoing future. Should this happen, we will work with Public Health regarding next steps. Any future school closures will be based on the context of that specific situation.
 
What should students, staff, and volunteers do if they feel sick?
All students, staff, and volunteers who feel sick with any illness should stay home and avoid going to school or public areas. In particular, those experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath should self-isolate at home and call their healthcare provider immediately. Self-isolation means separating yourself from other people and animals in your home by staying in a specific room and using a separate bathroom, if possible. If you have a face mask available, wear it when you have to be around other people. Please do not visit your healthcare provider or an emergency department without calling ahead if you have concerns about COVID-19. This will help protect other people from being exposed.
 
As the health situation evolves in King County, the Renton School District continues to review and update our emergency operations plan so that we can be best prepared for the possibility of more local cases. We will continue to update our  Coronavirus (COVID-19) page . Again, we want to express our appreciation for your patience and feedback as we respond to the daily challenges COVID-19 presents to us as a learning organization and a community.
 
Please find additional detailed information here:


For more information, please contact Randy Matheson, Executive Director, Community Relations
SOME HEALTH INFO - WHAT TO DO
From Congressman Adam Smith


For the latest information, you can visit the Washington State Department of Health  website here  or the Public Health – Seattle & King County  website here .
  • If you are in King County and believe you were exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19, or if you're a healthcare provider with questions about COVID-19, contact King County's novel coronavirus call center at 206-477-3977. The call center will be open daily from 8 AM to 7 PM PST.

All King County residents should follow this advice:
1.      Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your regular doctor first.

2.      Stay home when sick.

3.      Practice excellent personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into tissue or elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.

4.      Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system, or if you are pregnant.

5.      Stay informed. Information is changing frequently. Check and subscribe to Public Health's website ( www.kingcounty.gov/COVID ) or blog ( www.publichealthinsider.com ).

What to do if you were potentially exposed to someone with confirmed COVID-19:
First, know that you generally need to be in close contact with someone with COVID-19 to get infected. Close contact includes scenarios like living with or caring for a person with confirmed COVID-19, being within six feet of a person with confirmed COVID-19 for about 10 minutes, or if someone with COVID-19 coughed on you, kissed you, shared utensils with you or you had direct contact with their body secretions.
  • If you may have had close contact with a person with COVID-19 but are not sick
  • Monitor your health for fever, cough and shortness of breath for 14 days after your last contact with the ill person.
  • Do not go to school or work. Avoid public places for 14 days.
  • If you are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are sick
  • If you are sick with fever, cough, or shortness of breath, even if your symptoms are mild, isolate yourself.
  • If you are at higher risk for severe illness (over 60, with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes), have a weakened immune system or are pregnant) call your health care provider. They may want to test you for COVID-19.
  • If you have symptoms but are not in a high-risk category, talk with your health care provider. They will help you determine if you need to be evaluated.

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms but haven't been around anyone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19:
  • The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. These can be symptoms of other respiratory illnesses as well as COVID-19.
  • If you are in a high-risk category, and have symptoms of COVID-19, call your healthcare provider for advice. If you are at risk for serious illness, your healthcare provider may arrange a test for COVID-19.
  • If you do not have a high-risk condition and your symptoms are mild, you do not need to be tested for COVID-19. Do not go out when you are sick, practice excellent hygiene, and wear a face mask when you are around other people if you can.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes. Avoid sharing personal household items. Clean your hands often. Clean all "high-touch" surfaces like doorknobs often.
  • Monitor your symptoms and call your health care provider if symptoms worsen.
  • Stay home and avoid others for 72 hours after your fever goes down and symptoms get better.

For more detailed information or to print these recommendations and share them with others click on the following links:


CHAMBER OPERATIONS & TRAVEL INFO

The Renton Chamber of Commerce, will take the following precautions at this time:

  • Community gatherings and public meetings with 10 or more people will be postponed. We will send out an announcement each week with our updated schedules. If you have questions, please call us.

  • Employees are encouraged to work remotely as much as possible as appropriate.

  • Chamber staff will accept one-on-one meetings.

  • We should have someone on site regularly – but it’s a good idea to check ahead since staff has been given authority to telecommute. All other visitor services will continue as usual i.e.: answer phone calls, emails and website inquires.

  • If you have a guest looking for visitor information, please call 425-226-4560 and our staff will assist you.


We will continue to monitor the regional, national and global situation as it rapidly evolves, and we pledge to keep you informed. 

You’ll also find resources on the following websites that may provide assistance:





We want to assure our partners that we will be conducting business as usual even if staff work remotely. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have.


It will be especially important for us to support one another as we make it through these times and when we emerge on the other side. However we can help with your processes or if we have any questions we can answer, please let us know.