COVID Recovery Council
Community Based Testing:
Confluence Health alongside other regional healthcare providers, Mayors, County officials, business and non-profit leaders have come together to collaborate and cooperate on a recognized testing protocol to gauge the level of COVID-19 infection in our region. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed the methodology for this testing, called the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER), to gather data at the household level using valid sampling methods. It is quick, flexible and uses simple reporting formats. Households are selected randomly from 30 different Census blocks, also selected randomly using a validated model. The COVID-19 sampling will entail testing of about 250 randomly selected households across our two-county region and the test samples will be gathered by professionals from local health care providers. All data will be treated confidential.
COVID-19 is not going away. However, our region’s economy, businesses and residents cannot remain closed indefinitely, and need a pathway to safely re-open. To develop that pathway, we need statistically valid data on the level of COVID-19 infections, and its presence within our community. Health care providers across our counties will continue to test patients with symptoms and “high risk” situations, such as congregate housing or high-density workers in which there is known disease. Both are important to get a complete picture of how this virus is impacting our area.
The Greater Wenatchee Valley Region has been significantly impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19. Survey data collected from more than 270 employers illuminate the dramatic impacts the current “Stay at Home” orders are having across all employers in the Wenatchee Valley Region. It is heartening to see that more than two-thirds of businesses have prioritized the safety and well -being of their employees over short-term business performance.
Unfortunately, the data also reinforces the urgency for moving beyond the current “Stay at Home” orders and allow businesses to bring employees back to work carefully, and safely. Indeed, the data demonstrates that the survival of businesses in our region is at stake:
- 52% of businesses report that revenues are down by more than 50% with 30% of businesses reporting that revenue is off by 80%, or more.
- 55% of businesses have, or are considering, employee layoffs for indeterminate periods of time.
- More than half of businesses (53%) believe they can sustain themselves for less than three months; with another 28% of businesses “not sure” how long they can remain in operation.
- Most businesses believe it will take 3-12 months to recover. Only 40% of businesses believe they can rebound within three months.
The data reveals that our community is in dire need of financial assistance now. Around 53% of business report they cannot sustain operations for another three months and two-thirds report they cannot sustain operations for another six months without assistance. These businesses are the financial backbone of our local communities, of our regional non-profits, and, of course, for the livelihood of the region’s residents.
Governor Inslee’s “Plan for Getting Back to Work”
On April 21st, Governor Inslee laid out Washington’s Recovery Plan. The Plan includes three core elements:
- Protecting the Health and Safety of Washingtonians
- Facilitating a Safe Start and Transition to Economic Recovery
- Supporting People and Communities
The Governor’s plan envisions the Administration “providing guidance so businesses can operate safely.”
On April 24th, Governor Inslee announced a three-part process for returning businesses back to work. The process is modeled after the recently completed agreement to allow low risk construction work to resume. Although the process is tiered towards sectors, the team leading the effort is open to adapting to reflect a region’s situation.
WVCC Recovery Council:
The WVCC will immediately convene a Recovery Council comprised of local business, civic, non-profit, and health care leaders to engage with the Inslee Administration and policymakers on the Region’s behalf.
- Quickly engage with Governor Inslee’s process on behalf of the Greater Wenatchee Area.
- Develop a regional response to Governor Inslee’s Recovery Plan Elements.
- Assist in implementation of business sector plans and facilitate the removal of barriers to implement those plans in the region.
- Continue protecting citizens against the spread of COVID-19.
- Responsibly re-open businesses and return employees to work by transitioning away from essential and non-essential definitions to a standards-based criterion for health and safety among all employers.
- Assist local, state and federal government leaders in making informed decisions on future financial assistance.
- Develop tools for assessing regional economic impact and recovery and use regional data to inform state budget and policy decisions.
- Unequivocal support for our local businesses for safeguarding their people, assets, and overall brand equity.
- Align community efforts with state and local health authorities to ensure the protection of Chelan and Douglas County residents.
- Seek policies that allow business to maintain continuous operations and adapt to change based on emerging data on the effectiveness of protective measures.
The WVCC survey shows that “time is of the essence.” Moreover, it appears, but is not certain, that Governor Inslee will extend the current “Stay at Home” order beyond May 4th. However, the Governor’s team is looking to sectors to engage in planning to incrementally begin re-opening business activity in incremental phases. Accordingly:
- WVCC will immediately initiate formation of the Recovery Council.
- WVCC will bring business and community leaders together for the Council’s first meeting the week of May 4th.
- WVCC will invite Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz and East Wenatchee Mayor Jerrilea Crawford to co-chair the Council.
- WVCC will offer an initial scope of work for the Council and establish a timeline for the Council.
- WVCC will immediately initiate communications with Washington Department of Commerce, Governor Inslee’s office, state elected officials and stakeholder groups to inform them on the effort.
COVID Recovery Council Members:
Mayor Jerrilea Crawford, City of East Wenatchee
Mayor Frank Kuntz, City of Wenatchee
- Alma Chacon, CAFE
- Amy Gustin, Building NCW
- Bob Bugert, Chelan County Commissioner
- Bob Siderius, JDSA Law
- Charlotte Mayo, Springhill Suites
- Chuck Zimmerman, Ogden Murphy Wallace
- Dan Sutton, Douglas County Commissioner
- David Olson, Columbia Valley Community Health
- Elvis Garcia, Seattle Yoga Lounge
- Garry Arsenault, Chelan PUD Commissioner
- Greg Mercer, LocalTel
- Greg Oakes, Cashmere Valley Bank
- Gustavo Montoya, AgTools Inc.
- Jason Lake, Confluence Health
- Jim Richardson PhD, Wenatchee Valley Community College
- Jim Kuntz, Chelan Douglas Regional Port Authority
- Josh Stendera, North Cascades Bank
- Karina Vega-Villa PhD, Immigrant Latinx Solidarity Group
- Kristen Hosey, Wenatchee Valley College
- Linda Haglund, Wenatchee Downtown Association
- Mike Wade, Fielding Hills Winery & Columbia Fruit Packers
- Nathan Weed, Chelan Douglas Health District
- Sean Flaherty, Wenatchee World