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Inslee statement on federal major disaster declaration

March 22, 2020

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The White House today approved a request by Gov. Jay Inslee to declare a major disaster in Washington state. Inslee asked for the declaration in a letter to President Trump on Friday to unlock a host of additional federal assistance programs for Washingtonians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We appreciate that the federal government has recognized the severity of the public health emergency in Washington state by declaring a major disaster and taking the first step toward additional assistance for Washingtonians,” Inslee said. “However, today’s declaration does not unlock many forms of federal assistance we have requested to help workers and families who are badly hurting. We will continue working with our federal partners to deliver the full suite of disaster assistance that is sorely needed in our state, such as expanded unemployment benefits for workers who lose their paychecks as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.”

Today’s declaration grants the state’s request for assistance with crisis counseling and training to address the impact of the outbreak on the mental health of affected Washingtonians. Other disaster assistance programs requested in Inslee’s letter remain under review by the White House, including expanded unemployment assistance and basic food benefits.

"The state urgently requires additional federal emergency assistance in order to save lives, protect public health and safety, and limit further spread of the disease," Inslee said.

Inslee’s 74-page letter requests a number of other tools available during major disasters to help Washingtonians during these unprecedented times, including mass care for those most at risk for health complications from COVID-19 and emergency services for families of individuals who contract the virus and families affected economically from school and business closures.

Read the full letter

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