Joint Chamber Small Business Resource Call 5/14/2020

May 14, 2020
Graphic for Joint Chamber Small Business Resource Call

Thank you to all of our presenters on the call.

Questions Directed to Dr. Bob Lutz, Health Officer, Spokane Regional Health District

Q: Did Doc Lutz say we’re not cleared to move into Phase 2, by May 31st? I understand Commissioner French was preparing a request to the governor. Was that denied?

  • A: Yes, the request for Variance was denied by the governor based on the input from the State Department of Health.

Q: We are just looking for a date when we are likely to move to phase 2 so that we can plan around it?

  • A: Governor Inslee has expressed his willingness to push the May 31st date even further back saying, “I can’t tell you it’s June 1st for sure,” in regards to moving to the 2nd phase. We are hoping for more guidance from the Governor’s office soon.

Q: Did the governor give an explanation of the reasons for denial?

  • A: The governor’s reason for denial was that Spokane County does not meet the criteria to move to phase 2 because the criteria for larger counties is not yet developed.

Q: My understanding is that these County-by-County decisions are being made by DOH and Secretary Weisman, not by the Governor. Is that correct?

  • A: The Department of Health was the agency that suggested to the governor to reject Spokane County’s request for variance.

Q: If we have plexi-glass and 6ft of distancing are masks still necessary?

  • A: That would be adequate measures to take, although masks would still make a great addition to those measures.

Q: Can you speak more on the contact tracing outside of restaurants.

  • A: It will not necessarily be industry specific. As the health department is made aware of cases, they will conduct an investigation as they would any other communicable disease.  The ask of restaurants is to keep that information that will be provided to them to aid in the tracing efforts if necessary.  For other industries, it is not feasible to get all of the contact information for every customer that comes through the door.

Q: Please explain why you are supporting Mayor Woodward’s push to accelerate the city’s reopening.  Would this apply Co?

  • A: With the data that Dr. Lutz saw he felt that Spokane County was in a good place to move forward as long as it is done in a cautious manner following guidelines such as social distancing, masks being worn, etc.

Q: As a small prof. office what specific precautions should we take when we re-open our door to our clients with Phase 2

  • A: Social distancing will still be a part of any guidelines moving forward. If it is frequently touched, then it has to be frequently cleaned.  Masks are also strongly encouraged.

Q: Why should it be necessary for restaurants to have every customer sign in when big box stores and grocery stores aren’t required?

  • A: Restaurants are in a unique position through reservations and such to keep better track of that information. Once someone is infected and they have to go through the contact tracing process, having that information will make it easier to do so.

Q: Is it possible to estimate % of how many in Spokane County might fall into category of “covid-vulnerable” populations?

  • A: This would be very difficult to track. Huge list of individuals who meet that criteria, and it would be difficult to obtain the percentage of people.

Q: If a company would like to test their employees for COVID and/or Antibody prior to coming back to work, who would be the ordering physician? Additionally, If the company pays for the testing and has the employee sign a waiver, would the ordering physician requirement be a mute point?

  • A: This is still trying to be worked out. There is a task force looking at the testing strategy specifically for businesses.  Businesses could contract with a 3rd party provider, and if that were the case, then no physician from the business standpoint would be involved.  It would be the physician or practitioner from the third party vender.

Questions directed to Tommy Gantz, Director of Government Affairs, AWB

Q: We are finding that PPE (especially disposable masks) are being marked up 10-12x or greater. What used to cost $.07 is now $.80+. Is there any hope that supply chain providers can hold back on killing us with pricing?

  • A: Prices are expected to be higher than the equipment coming out of Asia. However, AWB hopes that Washington Manufacturers will make the equipment at a reasonable price point for businesses that need them.

Q: When will this form be available?

  • A: AWB is working hard to make it available, and the form will hopefully be up and running by next week.

Q: Is the AWB PPE connection only going to be available to members?

  • A: No, the PPE Connection tool from AWB will be available to all businesses in Washington State regardless of whether or not you are an AWB member.

Q: Will the manufacturers be vetted especially regarding price gouging?

  • A: The manufacturers will not be vetted, and there will be no favorites on behalf of AWB. AWB understands the concern about pricing, and they do expect prices to be higher than that of PPE from Asia. However, they hope Washington Manufacturers will make them reasonably priced.

Questions director to Clinton Slovarp, Market Manager, Eastern WA & North ID – Walmart

Q: How do you defend against chronic attendance issues by people who just say ‘I don’t feel well’ and stay home? Are you seeing abuse of those policies yet?

  • A: Walmart has seen many people staying home from work because of this policy. They have opted to hire more temporary staff in the meantime to make up for the shortage of employees.

Other Questions

Q: Any chance that you’ll be facilitating industry-focused groups of members? We’re health/beauty/Salon – if others are part of GSI, it would be great to compare notes. I imagine restaurants and retailers would probably appreciate a cohort to bounce experiences off of.

  • A: Yes there will be an industry focus to this strategy. Different businesses will have different needs depending on their facility setup.  Certain specific areas will need their own work streams, and that is wrapped up into the overall effort.

Additional Tools Referenced on the Call

Gov. Inslee on Phase 2


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