OLYMPIA — The reopening of the state is something Sunnyside business owner Leticia Sandoval eagerly awaits while struggling to find ways to keep her independent insurance company running.

On a typical day, Sandoval averages five policies, sometimes reaching up to 10 during a busy day. With the pandemic closing her doors, she has written three policies in one month.

“I hardly ever work nowadays. I usually am down all day, non-stop but now it is super dead,” Sandoval stressed.

The insurance specialist worries for other small businesses in the area if the shutdown continues as they might be forced to close their doors for good so Sandoval hopes the state can safely reopen soon.

On Tuesday April 21, Governor Jay Inslee announced his plans for the safe, gradual return to public life amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inslee described the approach for the state would not be immediate and depending on health projections for the spread of the virus, some distancing restrictions may be in place for weeks or months to come.

As of Monday, April 27, Inslee announced a partial re-opening of some outdoor recreation activities.

Also, nearly $300 million will be awarded from the state’s federal stimulus funding local government that did not receive direct distributions under the CARES Act.

Representative Dan Newhouse (Sunnyside-R) responded to the governor’s decision, especially that of reopening residential construction.

“Not only will reopening private construction ensure thousands…can earn a paycheck, but it will provide relief to families who have been displaced from their homes during this pandemic and will increase access to housing across our state,” Newhouse stated.

The governor’s plan has three overriding goals:

The first goal is “Protect the Health and Safety of Washingtonians” which is the continuation of suppressing the virus guided by science and data in order to decrease infections and death.

“Facilitate a Safe Start and Transition to Economic Recovery” is the second goal. Measured steps will be taken to get people back to work in a way that protects themselves and the community’s health.

Lastly, “Support All People and Communities”. The governor states an equity lens for recovery efforts to enhance peoples’ physical, emotional, and financial well-being, with particular attention to those who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

The governor’s plan emphasized the necessity for community leaders from across the state to work together to provide guidance for a safe and sustainable recovery.

Some outdoor recreation will be allowed with appropriate safety precautions beginning Tuesday, May 5 including fishing; hunting; playing golf; and day use at state parks, state public lands managed by the Department of Natural Resources and at state Fish and Wildlife areas.

Public gatherings, such as team sports and camping, are not resuming currently.

Funds will be provided to cities and counties with populations under 500,000 that were ineligible to receive direct funding under the CARES Act.

Specific allocations will be released in the coming days. Each county will receive a minimum distribution of $250,000 and each city will receive a minimum distribution of $25,000 from the state.

Under state law, the Legislature must be notified about the awards and be given 10 days to respond before the distributions are made. During that time, the state will work with local governments to get the agreements in place so they can put the money to work as soon as possible.

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