Seattle (July 23, 2020) – With a critical component of testing in short supply which is leading to longer wait times for testing, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and 77 Mayors across the country sent a letter to the White House Coronavirus Task Force calling on the Trump Administration to make full use of the Defense Production Act to rapidly scale up critically needed testing supplies – highlighting specifically the need for reagents, the key ingredient used to complete wide-spread testing, reliably, and expeditiously to help contain the virus. In some cases in Washington State, there are now reported delays of up to 7 to 10 days.
“Back in early March, I sounded the alarms on testing. Months later, we need to sound the alarm again. As the virus surges across the entire country, we know that supply chains are at capacity. By refusing to act, we will continue to not have the capacity needed for widespread and rapid testing. Testing saves lives,” said Mayor Durkan. “We have asked so much from our communities from Stay Home orders to wearing face coverings to socially distancing from family and friends - a requirement that goes against every fiber of our being in times of crisis. Just as we’ve asked much of our communities, we need our federal government to step up and harness the ingenuity and innovation of American companies to provide the supplies needed to save lives.”
Studies reveal that communities should be prepared to expect waves of the virus over the next two years, even if a vaccine is developed. Testing, with a quick return of results and in tandem with robust contact tracing efforts, are the key ways to track COVID-19 in the community and isolate those who are sick to reduce exposure risk and contain the virus. As we move towards fall, differentiating between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu will continue to have life and death repercussions without the testing resources we need.
This week, congressional leaders led by Senator Patty Murray, sent a letter to the White House questioning why up to $8 billion in testing funding allocated in April sits unspent.
You can read the full text of the letter and list of signers here.
Since the start of the pandemic, Mayor Durkan and the City of Seattle have implemented a series of programs that support artists, nonprofits, small businesses, workers, and our most vulnerable including:
Launching free Citywide testing sites at locations in north and south Seattle;
Establishing an outreach, education and enforcement effort to help businesses maintain compliance with public health mandates;
Creating and deploying Mobile Assessment Teams to test our most vulnerable in senior and long-term care establishments at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis;
Creating a PPE collection program that accumulated more than one million items that were distributed to first responders and frontline essential workers throughout the region;
Announcing the Mayor’s plan to create 500 permanent homes to support neighbors experiencing chronic homelessness;
Launching the “Seattle Protects” marketplace to connect local manufacturers and businesses with those in need of cloth face coverings;
Investing $7 million in CARES Act funding towards food access programs for older adults and people experiencing homelessness and $4 million in CARES Act funds toward rental assistance programs;
Launching the “Stay Healthy Streets” pilot program as an effective option for travel to essential services;
Deferring utility payments for customers impacted by COVID-19;
Implementing a temporary moratorium on residential, small business, and nonprofit evictions to provide relief for working people financially impacted by COVID-19;
Creating temporary restaurant loading zones to facilitate curbside pickup at restaurants;
Announcing a small business relief package that included deferred business taxes and a $2.5 million stabilization fund;
Creating a new Arts Recovery Package to provide immediate financial relief to artists and cultural organizations that have been impacted by COVID-19;
Providing 6,250 Seattle families and 1,800 workers with $800 in grocery vouchers;
Providing rent relief to tenants of City-owned facilities;
Opening emergency child care classrooms to help hundreds of kids of essential workers;
Partnering with United Way of King County and King County to invest $5 million in rental assistance to help families stay in their homes; and
Launching the #SupportPugetSoundSmallBiz map to help residents find small businesses open for takeout and delivery in their neighborhood.
The City has also created a comprehensive resource page for residents and small businesses impacted by COVID-19. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.