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Coronavirus coverage for Spokane County, April 14

Find developments on the coronavirus outbreak in Spokane County and Washington state as we separate facts from fear.

Key Facts: 

  • 516 coronavirus deaths among 10,538 cases in Washington.
  • Gov. Inslee ordered workplace protections for people at higher risk of a serious case of COVID-19
  • 17 coronavirus deaths among 278 cases in Spokane County 

Read previous daily coronavirus updates from April 13 here

Tuesday, April 14

5:33 p.m.

Governor Jay Inslee signed three new proclamations on Tuesday, ranging from statutes of limitations to Commercial Driver's Licenses.

According to a release from Inslee's office, the governor signed a proclamation suspending statute of limitations for all crimes and waiving the one-year limitation for post-conviction challenges in criminal cases. The release states this comes as an effort to allow more time for prosecutors to file charges and more time for those convicted of crimes to challenge them amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Another proclamation has waived certain barriers in renewing or extending commercial driver's licenses during the coronavirus pandemic, as truckers move supplies across the country, according to the proclamation.

The third proclamation suspends the collection of debt through wage garnishment, and waives the accrual of interest on debts during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Washington state gets nearly $11 million in DOJ grants to go toward public safety challenges during the coronavirus outbreak

U.S. Attorneys Brian Moran and William Hyslop announced that the state of Washington received almost $11 million in Department of Justice grants to respond to the public safety challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The grants, to the Washington Department of Commerce and the city of Olympia, are available under the Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding program, authorized by the recent stimulus legislation signed by President Donald Trump. 

An additional $5.7 million has been allocated for other local jurisdictions in Washington. 

The grants can be used in a variety of ways, including for staffing, overtime, protective gear or medical care in jails and prisons.

2:25 p.m.

The Spokane Regional Health District announced new cases and deaths in the county from the novel coronavirus. The total number of cases now sits at 278, with 17 deaths related to COVID-19.

This represents two more deaths than previously reported by the SRHD.

1:33 p.m. 

Another Samaritan Healthcare employee in Moses Lake has tested positive for COVID-19. The employee is not showing symptoms and remains at home in isolation, according to a Samaritan spokesperson. 

It appears that the employee contracted COVID-19 through community exposure. The employee has not worked since they were initially contacted by the Grant County Health District for having been exposed to another positive patient within the Samaritan Healthcare community. 

Samaritan leaders previously announced in late March that two employees had tested positive for COVID-19. As of this week, both employees have been cleared by the Grant County Health District and returned to work.

The two previously diagnosed employees work on a separate campus than the employee with the newest case, the spokesperson said. 

In early March, Samaritan Healthcare implemented a comprehensive screening strategy on all campus locations. The screening process involves a COVID-19 symptom questionnaire and temperature check upon entrance and exit to any Samaritan facility.

All staff, patients and visitors are also asked to wear masks during the duration of their activities on campus.

Spokane International Airport to receive federal aid

Federal officials announced Tuesday that Washington airports will receive $310.32 million in aid in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The grant funding will be dispersed between 62 airports across the state.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao said in a press release the funding is part of the CARES Act that was signed into law by President Trump. The funding is intended to support operations and replace funding lost due to the decline in passenger traffic from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Spokane International Airport will receive $29,589,274 in funding, according to an interactive map.

“This $10 billion in emergency resources will help fund the continued operations of our nation’s airports during this crisis and save workers’ jobs,” said Chao.

Click here to see a breakdown of how much each airport in the state will receive.

10 a.m.

Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs said at a media briefing on Tuesday that city leaders are working on a law to give tenants and mortgage owners ten months to pay off their back obligations without being evicted amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Spokane City Council approved a modified emergency declaration last month by Mayor Nadine Woodward that extended protections against evictions through April 30.

The declaration bans residential and commercial evictions, except in the case of imminent threat to people or property. 

It also bans all fees related to late rent payments.

The declaration initially proposed a requirement that landlords offer tenants graduated payback plans after the crisis is over. That language was removed after it was determined it would need to be a separate ordinance, since provisions in an emergency declaration are only in effect during said emergency, according to Beggs.

5 a.m.

The Spokane Regional Health District reports there are 276 coronavirus cases, and 15 coronavirus related deaths in Spokane County. 

80 million to receive stimulus checks by Wednesday 

More than 80 million Americans should have their stimulus check deposited automatically into their bank accounts by Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Monday. 

The Treasury Department explained in a press release that those who filed 2019 or 2018 tax returns and received a refund using direct deposit should get their coronavirus stimulus payments this week. 

The payments are part of the $2.2 trillion rescue package signed into law by President Donald Trump aimed at combating the economic ravages of the coronavirus outbreak.

If you don't see your money in your bank account by then, don't panic. 

Starting on Wednesday, the IRS will launch a new web tool that will show when people can expect their payment. The "Get My Payment" tool will "provide people with the status of their payment, including the date their payment is scheduled to be deposited into their bank account or mailed to them."

The IRS said the "Get My Payment" tool will also let eligible individuals submit bank information, if they haven't already, so they can get their payment quicker than waiting for a paper check in the mail. 

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