Small businesses running out of money under the weight of Gov. Jay Inslee’s stay-at-home order are eligible for some degree of respite under a program, Inslee announced at a press conference Tuesday.
The Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grant program (tinyurl.com/PDN- EmergencyGrant) was praised by Colleen McAleer, Clallam County Economic Development Council executive director, who spoke at the press conference.
Businesses with up to 10 employees are eligible for up to $10,000 grants from a pool of just under $90,000 available to Clallam County entrepreneurs and $80,000 to Jefferson County businesses.
McAleer acknowledged the limitations of the pool of money available on the North Olympic Peninsula but said the process will still do some good for entrepreneurs whose livelihoods have been threatened by measures taken to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses from both counties can find the application at tinyurl.com/PDN- SmallBusinessGrants.
Clallam County businesses should email applications to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We know this grant is going to help only a limited number of businesses, but the process will allow our advising team to connect with businesses who need help right now and provide them with other resources,” McAleer said in prepared remarks.
“I’m glad to get any type of resources at all, and I am hoping they will fund additional money for this program so we can get it out to more businesses that really need this financial support right not based on the governor’s requirement for businesses to temporarily shut down,” McAleer said in a later interview.
Jefferson County businesses should email applications to email@example.com.
“These grants are intended to help businesses get through this difficult period where so much business activity has been disrupted,” said Brian Kuh, EDC Team Jefferson executive director.
“The key challenge with this program is how limited a fund the grants come from, which means that there will undoubtedly be greater demand than supply.
“It will be in our best interest to submit as many applications as we can to seek to ensure that we maximize the impact in our communities.”
Inslee also touted a Small Business Administration forgivable-loan program (www.sba.gov).
He said he is aware businesses are frustrated over the application process but urged them to keep applying.
“We hope these initiatives together can help soften the economic blow of this virus,” Inslee said.
“We know what we’re doing today is not enough.”
The number of coronavirus cases on the North Olympic Peninsula rose by three to 36 Tuesday.
In Jefferson County, two more residents tested positive for the highly contagious respiratory ailment, raising the total of those infected to 27, three times higher than in Clallam County, which has more than double the population. There have been 555 tests conducted.
One new confirmed case, a woman in her 20s, was reported in Clallam County on Tuesday for a total of nine.
There have been 541 people tested in Clallam County, with 502 showing negative results and 30 pending.
Clallam County is fast running out of home-made masks for health-care workers and emergency responders who don’t have surgical masks to protect themselves, officials said.
“We are still in very, very large need of homemade masks in our area,” Undersheriff Ron Cameron said Tuesday.
Jefferson Healthcare hospital is not in imminent danger of running out of surgical masks, said Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer.
However, the hospital is “certainly in the long line of people requesting supplies from various source, including the state,” Locke said.
A donation center set up at the Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles had enough cloth masks made by volunteers to fill existing orders as of Tuesday morning, said Anne Chastain, Emergency Operations coordinator, at Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing.
Potential volunteers should call the Clallam County hot line at 360-417-2430.
The Centers for Disease Control recently recommended that people wear cloth masks in public areas where they are likely to be with others. Wearing such masks is in addition to, not in place of, staying 6 feet apart from others.
A demonstration by Surgeon General Jerome Adams on how to make the masks with a piece of cloth and two rubber bands, is at tinyurl.com/PDN-CDCMasks.
The CDC made the recommendation after the agency reassessed the role of asymptomatic transmission of the virus following a study by a scientific committee.
“One of the [pieces of] information that we have pretty much confirmed now is that a significant number of individuals that are infected actually remain asymptomatic,”CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told NPR on March 31 (tinyurl.com/PDN-AsymptomaticCovid).
“That may be as many as 25 percent.”
The CDC also newly said the virus can be spread by breathing and talking,
Local health officials and CDC continue to stress the overriding importance of staying home and of social distancing, or communicating with people at a distance of 6 feet or more, a restriction that cannot always be maintained in places such as grocery stores, where Inslee said this week he now wears a cloth face mask.
The county was scheduled to receive 1,300 surgical masks Tuesday after ordering 9,000, and ordered several thousand N95 masks but had not received any, Chastain said.
“We still haven’t seen anything from the state,” Cameron said.
“We have no N95 other than those donated locally.”
Clallam and Jefferson counties both remain far below the statewide percentage of 8.6 percent of residents whose test swabs come back positive, with Clallam at about 2 percent and Jefferson at 4.6 percent.
Jefferson has tested 555 residents to Clallam County’s 524, although Clallam’s population of 75,000 is more than twice Jefferson County’s.
Until recently, Clallam had a serious shortage of test kits.
“I suspect eventually Clallam will catch up to Jefferson in terms of per capita testing,” Locke said, estimating that would require about 1,000 tests of Clallam County residents.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5, or at email@example.com.
Terry Ward, publisher of Peninsula Daily News, is on the board of directors of the Clallam County Economic Development Council.