SEATTLE — Washington will “immediately receive” $11.5 million in federal funding to help combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the state.
The funding comes after President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion measure Friday morning to tackle the virus outbreak in the U.S. The legislation will provide federal public health agencies money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments.
Washington state will also be eligible to receive continued resources while health officials work to limit the spread of the virus.
As of Friday morning, 11 people have died and 68 others have tested positive for COVID-19 in Washington state.
"We are pleased that the U.S. Congress is sending Washington state much more than their thoughts and prayers, and that is the resources that we so need," Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said at a Friday morning press conference. He was joined by local officials and Congressional representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Suzan DelBene (WA-01) to provide updates on the emergency funding and other aspects of coronavirus response.
"I do believe that we have a very clear understanding that we are the tip of the spear nationally on this," Inslee said. "The rest of the country frankly is looking to us for leadership for how we handle this crisis."
Much of the $8.3 billion emergency funding package signed by President Trump Friday morning is earmarked for prevention and response, and includes reimbursements to local public health authorities, development of vaccines, purchase of protective gear and training for health professionals.
The package also includes $1 billion in loan subsidies to help small businesses and others that have seen financial losses due to the coronavirus outbreak. The virus outbreak in China has caused financial problems for geoduck producers in the Pacific Northwest.
That emergency funding enables the Small Business Administration to provide $7 billion in loans across the country, said Kilmer, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
"We’ve already begun to hear from employers throughout the state of Washington are feeling the negative economic impacts of this. Our shellfish growers who export predominantly to China where the ports are largely shut down. Manufacturers and even just main street businesses that have reached out to us and explained that they are taking a hit," Kilmer told reporters at the 9:30 a.m. press conference.
"There are already disaster loan programs as part of the SBA. Those are generally targeted at things like hurricanes and tornadoes. We know that this has a significant impact to our economy not unlike those disasters," Kilmer said.
Inslee, Kilmer, DelBene, and King County Executive Dow Constantine held a press conference 9:30 a.m. Friday to discuss the funding in Washington state, and other updates regarding the local coronavirus response. The press conference was streamed on KING5.com and on the KING 5 mobile app.