Mayor Durkan Issues Statement on Governor Inslee’s New Statewide Restrictions as COVID-19 Cases Surge

SEATTLE (November 15, 2020) – Mayor Jenny A. Durkan issued a statement following the announcement of Governor Jay Inslee’s new statewide restrictions on social gatherings and businesses. During the first two weeks of November, Seattle had 1,550 residents diagnosed with the virus, which is nearly 20% of Seattle’s total cases since March 2020. The Seattle case count per 100,000 residents is more than five times higher than what it was at the end of the summer, rising from 40.8 cases per 100,000 residents to over 232 cases per 100,000 residents. Cases severe enough to require hospitalizations are four times higher than at the end of the summer, increasing from 1.3 hospitalizations per 100,000 residents to 6.1. The number of people in Seattle currently in the hospital with COVID-19 has increased quickly over the past week and is the highest since April 2020. 

“Governor Inslee and public health officials had to act to address the significant and dangerous increase in cases and hospitalizations. While Seattle has one of the lowest rates of cases of any major city, we are not immune to the virus surging in the nation, state, and region. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn have impacted so many small businesses and workers. People are hurting. These actions will have a particularly profound impact on our small businesses as we head into what normally would be a busy holiday shopping season. While Seattle will continue to work creatively to provide direct financial assistance to our workers and small businesses, we are grateful the state will augment relief on an emergency basis, and we need the federal government to immediately pass another COVID-19 relief package. I will work with the City Council and our philanthropic and business communities to provide further emergency relief in Seattle,” said Mayor Durkan.

“This year’s holiday season will be hard as we cannot gather with our loved ones the way we normally would. But celebrating at a distance is how we keep everyone safe. We are at a crucial point in the pandemic and our actions will shape our ability to return to a more normal life in the months to come. Everyone who lives and works in Seattle must mask up, avoid gatherings – especially all indoor gatherings, and follow all public health guidance. The City will continue to do all it can by maintaining our successful testing programs, working with public health officials to see if we can increase contact tracing, and doing all we can to help our businesses and workers. It’s up to all of us to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities, particularly our most vulnerable,” concluded Mayor Durkan.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the City of Seattle has worked quickly to launch COVID-19 relief programs including rent relief, expanding shelter for people experiencing homelessness, grocery vouchers for working families, direct cash assistance for immigrants and refugees, and financial assistance to small businesses. Residents and businesses can find a list of existing COVID-19 relief resources and policies on this website.

The City’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has updated its Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance to better serve workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers and businesses can find the updated COVID-19 PSST policy here.

The City has several existing resources to help small businesses stay open during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, the City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has provided 469 small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 with $10,000 grants. OED is accepting applications through November 30, 2020 for $4 million in new Small Business Stabilization Grants.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Fire Department (SFD) also have a variety of options for business owners seeking to expand their operations outdoors, including curbside pickup, free street use and block closure permits, and free tent and heating permits. SDOT’s free street use permits for businesses are available through October 31, 2021. Businesses interested in learning more and applying can visit this website.

The City of Seattle continues to offer free COVID-19 testing across Seattle through a partnership with King County and UW Medicine. Drive-through and walk-up testing is available, but residents must first register online. The Seattle Fire Department currently operates four free testing sites in Seattle, and as of November 15, 2020 the SFD sites have conducted over 350,000 tests. Public Health – Seattle & King County recommends that anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms or close contact with someone who has COVID-19 get tested right away. Testing as soon as possible after symptoms appear is important to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to family, friends, and the community. Residents can sign up for a test here.

The City asks residents to please sign up for Alert Seattle, which is an important way to get emergency alerts and notifications from the City. 

Members of the public can track the current level of COVID-19 in Seattle and King County on Public Health – Seattle & King County’s data dashboard. The dashboard is updated daily.