The state of Washington earmarked $2.2 billion for new Covid-19 relief Friday, as Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation passed earlier this month.
“We have saved thousands of lives in Washington state, and I’m hoping this now helps thousands of businesses,” Inslee said in a news conference.
The new law sets aside $240 million for business assistance grants, but most of the money will go to additional help for public schools. Additionally, $618 million in additional funding will go toward public health programs, including testing, contact tracing and vaccinations. All of the money comes from federal Covid-19 relief to Washington. Inslee signed a separate bill making Covid-19 grants exempt from state sales tax.
The new funding comes as the head of the health department in Seattle and King County, Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, said they are seeing case counts continue to fall, but he still has concern about variants of Covid-19 that are spreading.
“I have even more respect for the new variant with respect to the threat that it poses,” Duchin said. “If we become complacent, we will regret it.”