OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday announced more federal funding to help businesses handle the financial fallouts from the coronavirus pandemic. He also extended the state's moratorium on evictions.
Inslee also announced a $15 million federal grant provided to the state by the U.S. Economic Development Administration to assist businesses during the pandemic.
Department of Commerce Director Lisa Brown said the grant is one of the largest of these types of grants in the country.
"We've got success stories out there," said Brown, referencing businesses that have endured the pandemic with help from state and federal funding. "But we know it's not going to be easy, this is going to be a tough period of time for many businesses."
The Department of Commerce will be in charge of distributing the funds, and while it wasn't immediately clear what the criteria for qualifying for the federal grant will be, Brown said, "We've asked and are monitoring that the grants go out equitably with respect to region and specific demographic groups."
Brown said her department will work with its business partnerships to distribute the funding to qualifying businesses. She also said the department will continue to work with federal partners, and potentially the legislature, to get more relief for businesses in the future.
In the meantime, Inslee encouraged people to be conscious of their shopping habits.
"We can help to as shoppers," said Inslee, "I encourage people to shop locally, shop small business, help these folks out right now."
The governor's eviction moratorium, that was set to expire next week, has been extended through Dec. 31, 2020.
"We certainly don’t need more housing insecurity in the moment of uncertainty during this pandemic," said Inslee during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Inslee also took time to address a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases across the state, including an outbreak at the University of Washington's Greek row that has grown to more than 200 cases so far.
"We are so concerned by the sororities and fraternities, quite frankly, that are putting us all at risk," said Inslee. He also said the state is looking to see more leadership from the Greek community.
"They've got to step up and take responsibility for this. There will be consequences if we don't get that leadership because this is too deadly to ignore," said Inslee.
In response to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, Inslee and State Health Office Katy Lofy announced the Department of Health has launched a new section on its COVID-19 dashboard that allows people to find a COVID-19 testing site closest to them.