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Spokane Councilwoman Kate Burke calls for action to protect vulnerable from coronavirus

Burke wants there to be a temporary moratorium on all evictions and utility shutoffs.

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane city councilwoman called on the Spokane Mayor’s Office Thursday to take action regarding COVID-19.

Councilwoman Kate Burke says the mayor’s office needs to take dramatic actions to ensure every member of the community can remain both healthy and economically secure.

Burke wants there to be a temporary moratorium on all evictions and utility shutoffs.

She said city council and the mayor should expand universal paid sick leave laws to ensure employees are able to pay for the basics if they aren’t able to work.

Burke also wants to make sure the city continues to help the vulnerable population of our community and make sure Spokane Transit remains available.

Here’s a full statement from her office:

In the wake of COVID-19 Councilwoman Kate Burke is calling on Spokane City Council and the Mayor’s Office to take dramatic actions that ensure every member of our community can remain healthy and economically secure.

Councilwoman Burke is calling for city hall to protect the health of renters by placing a temporary moratorium on all evictions and utility shutoffs. Basic resources like electricity, internet, heat, and water are critical to maintain good health and stay in contact with medical professionals. Second, City Council and the Mayor must expand universal paid sick leave laws to ensure employees are able to pay for basic necessities if they are unable to work. Additionally, it is critical that the city be cautious in limiting vital city services to our vulnerable populations. Low income housing, senior living facilities, warming centers, homeless shelters and the Spokane County Jail must be prioritized as critical to maintaining public health and given the appropriate resources for them to be safe and healthy spaces. Finally, Councilwoman Burke is requesting that Spokane Transit continues to operate across Spokane to make sure that those without transportation are able to access food, work, and medical care. Spokane is only as healthy as our most vulnerable communities.

These urgent measures will help mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on our community and secure the economic stability necessary to maintain public health.

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Burke told KREM on Thursday night she does not yet have a specific plan on how to enact such moratoriums, but hopes to work with council and the administration to form one.

Similar plans have already been explored in cities like Miami, San Francisco and San Jose.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and other local leaders discussed the city's plan for responding to COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, on Wednesday.

Woodward said there are no limitations on social gatherings within the city but she did urge community members to take "immediate steps" toward practicing social distancing.

Event organizers are also urged to review their contingency plans for postponing and even canceling events of 250 people or more, Woodward said.

Woodward said the city has postponed employee and volunteer programs scheduled this week "out of an abundance of caution."

Some people have expressed concerns over how the Spokane Transit Authority will work to sanitize its buses. Woodward responded to this on Wednesday by saying STA is doing evening cleanings and sanitizing of all buses, and posting best practices in its buses.

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