PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced new policies on the growing coronavirus outbreak in the state, including ones that aim to cushion the economic impact.

During the Tuesday morning press conference, Gov. Inslee unveiled an expansion of policies that will support workers and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. Commissioner of the Washington Employment Security Department, Suzi LeVine, was alongside Inslee to roll out the new rules that will help alleviate the economic impact felt by businesses and their employees.

Inslee announced all state employees impacted by the coronavirus will get extra leave and telework options.

“Whether it’s businesses expanding their paid leave and telework options, support for state workers, unemployment insurance or Paid Family and Medical Leave, we can help provide individuals with additional security while they care for themselves and their families,” Inslee said. “I am also directing the state to look at ways to minimize impact for those impacted by self quarantine. We can also ensure employers retain their workers even if they need to slow down their business operations.

“On top of all that, we are expanding the ability of employers to retain their workers even if they need to slow business operations.”

The new ESD rules will go into effect immediately to relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation and quarantine by ensuring the proper benefits are available to workers.

Those rules include:

  • Workers will be able to receive unemployment benefits and employers will get relief of benefit charges if an employer needs to curtail or shut down operations temporarily because a worker becomes sick and other workers need to be isolated or quarantined as a result of COVID-19.
  • A worker that follows guidance issued by a medical or public health official to isolate or quarantine themselves as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and is not receiving paid sick leave from their employer, may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
  • If a worker falls seriously ill and is forced to quit, they may qualify for Paid Family Medical Leave while ill under the existing program. Once recovered and available for work, they may apply for unemployment benefits.
  • It removes the full-time requirement and expands standby ability to part time/less than full-time workers who are isolated.

“The last thing people need to worry about when dealing with a health crisis is how they’re going to put food on the table,” said LeVine. “These new rules build on our state’s already strong foundation of support services.”

Full video of press conference

Furthermore, unemployment insurance deadlines and mandatory appointments will be more lenient for those in isolation or quarantine. Financial penalties for employers who file or pay taxes late as a result of COVID-19 will also be waived.

If a state employee is impacted by the virus, they will have additional leave available to them. If an employee has a fever and cough or shortness of breath but has not had any known exposure to the virus, they will be directed to stay home for 72 hours after their symptoms have improved.

Full KOIN 6 News coronavirus coverage

State employees will have more telework and leave options available to them, as well. State organizations are determining all possibilities for expanding telework options for impacted employees.

“State employees are the backbone of our government and we need to do everything we can to ensure they are able to take care of themselves and their families,” Inslee said. “Those who work for the state of Washington support all of us and we need to support them.”

During the press conference, Inslee also announced a new directive concerning nursing homes and care centers. Most restrictions have to do with visitors along with prohibiting any person to work or volunteer unless they have been screened for symptoms at the beginning of every shift.

Earlier this month, Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency in response to the growth of the coronavirus. Washington state currently has the most cases of the virus in the United States with 162 and 22 deaths, many of whom are affected are vulnerable populations and nursing homes.

Read the full proclamation here:

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KOIN 6 News will keep you updated with details.