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Washington state doubles funding for coronavirus response

Of the $200 million earmarked, $175 million will be for state and local response, and $25 million will help businesses impacted by the area outbreak of COVID-19.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Coronavirus quarantine sites, hospitals and struggling businesses could get some economic help after lawmakers doubled the state's emergency funding to respond to the area COVID-19 outbreak from $100 million to $200 million.

Lawmakers made the move to allocate the money Thursday night, as the legislature's last act on the final day of the Washington State Legislative Session.

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Gov. Jay Inslee said he hasn’t made any specific spending decisions on the emergency funding, but state and local agencies will share $175 million.

That money could be spent on setting up coronavirus quarantine sites or freeing up hospital bed space for what's expected to be a growing number of patients. 

The last $25 million will be for businesses hurt by the economic fallout. Many are seeing economic impacts from canceled events and decreased foot traffic as people to work from home.

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The governor says that funding could be just the start.

"The urgency of this is clear. The demand for action is clear. We’ll stretch this as far as we can. We’ll find some measure, some way to finance more if we have to," he said.

Any money that isn't spent will go back into a reserve account for the state. State officials have also said that the crisis has allowed them to spend less money than planned in other areas to build up the state reserve.

Washington has more confirmed cases than any other state of the coronavirus that first emerged in China last year. So far this year, 457 overall cases of coronavirus infection have been confirmed in Washington, and 31 of those people have died.

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