SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Spokane County, the City of Spokane, Spokane Valley and other municipalities announced emergency declaration procedures Monday to help with the response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
According to a press release from Spokane County, the declarations are procedural and speed up the processes for the county and cities to quickly deploy funding and resources, seek state and federal resources and grant greater flexibility to work with existing local labor agreements
In a press conference Monday, Spokane County Commissioners, Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward and the City of Spokane Valley signed emergency declarations. Spokane City Council approved Woodward's declaration in a vote just hours later.
Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich directed the Department of Emergency Management to establish the Emergency Operations Center at noon on Monday. According to county leaders, this organizes the COVID-19 response under a single community effort for cooperative and collaborative planning.
“We are going to get through this by working together,” Knezovich said. “Our partners countywide are committed and prepared with a strong regional response that facilitates efficient access of state and federal resources.”
“Our cities and county are united, coordinated, and prepared as a regional partnership that is addressing community needs related to the impacts of COVID-19 on our community,” Woodward said. “We understand there is anxiety and we are urging caution, courtesy, and calm.”
The county and city leaders stressed the importance of following the guidance from local public health experts to slow the spread of the virus. People should continue to practice good hand hygiene, cough and sneeze etiquette and social distancing.
They also encouraged citizens to take advantage of alternative ways to patronize local restaurants by ordering take-out or delivery. County and city leaders also asked people exercise restraint in buying cleaning and household supplies in typical-use quantities.
Local government organizations are also working on a plan to minimize impacts to those who fall behind on payments for things like sewer, water and garbage services operated through their jurisdictions.
Avista is already avoiding shut downs of electricity and gas services to customers who fall behind. Innovia is also working on a plan through the foundation to assist local organizations to deliver needed resources locally.
The City of Spokane also announced Monday that water shut-offs and late fees are suspended until further notice.