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Newsletter: Keeping our community healthy

This newsletter was sent to WA-10 constituents on Saturday, March 21st. If you'd like to recieve regular updates like this, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter.

I’ve been back in Washington state for a week now after voting on the Families First coronavirus response package.

As you know, our state has been one of the centers of the COVID-19 outbreak and we have experienced unprecedented disruption in its wake. This week, I want to highlight and commend our community’s incredible response to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Across the South Sound, I’ve seen Washingtonians recognize that fighting the spread of this virus requires action from each and every one of us. We all need to take everyday preventive actions: Wash your hands. Clean frequently used objects. Cover coughs and sneezes.

Just as important, we all must practice social distancing. If you can stay home, stay home. Our state has already closed facilities like schools, restaurants, and theaters. All gatherings of more than 10 people are strongly discouraged by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you can, work from home and avoid public transportation. Even if you do not display symptoms of COVID-19, you may still carry the virus and risk spreading it to high-risk individuals like seniors or people with underlying health issues.

If you do feel sick or are caring for someone who is sick, I encourage you to follow the CDC’s guidance to keep yourself and your neighbors healthy.

I also want to focus on the well-being of our community beyond taking care of our physical health. This is a difficult time for all of us, and our neighbors are facing all manner of stresses. Some of us may be afraid to go to the store. Some of us are losing a paycheck, while others have to work double shifts. Some of us have no one to care for their children while schools are closed.

We all need to take care of ourselves and think of ways we can help our neighbors:

If you’re at the grocery store, take only what you need. Our state’s supply chains are operating normally and essential services like grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open through the public health crisis. Each time we overstock on an item that we don’t need, that could mean an extra trip for an elderly or immuno-compromised neighbor.

Be sure to share only information on the virus that has been confirmed by public health authorities, like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Washington State Department of Health.

Remember that COVID-19 does not recognize race, ethnicity, or nationality. Just because someone is wearing a mask doesn’t mean that they are ill.

Above all, we need to remember to be kind to one another—and ourselves. Call or video chat with your friends and family. Pick up groceries for a neighbor in need. Schedule an appointment to donate vitally needed blood—it’s safe and sanitary. Occasionally take a break from the news and schedule time to relax and read a book, or listen to music. We all have different coping strategies to deal with stress. Our lives and daily routines will change dramatically as we work to limit the spread of COVID-19, and I encourage you to take care of yourself to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy.

Rep. Heck practicing social distancing

That starts with me. Since I’ve returned from Washington, D.C., I’ve been practicing social distancing and, like many of you, I’ve spent this week on my fair share of conference calls. Even though I’ve been working remotely, I’ve been submitting legislative proposals to make sure Washingtonians can keep food on the table during this public health crisis, speaking with public health experts to explore the best ways to contain COVID-19 and maintain our healthcare system, and coordinating with government officials at the local, state, and federal levels to ensure they receive the resources they need.

To ensure the safety of my staff and constituents, my offices have also made temporary changes to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Starting this week, my Washington, D.C. office has physically closed and is continuing operations remotely. The House Office Buildings in Washington, D.C. are currently closed to the public, and my staff is teleworking and will continue to monitor email and voicemail daily. To contact my D.C. staff, call 202-225-9740.

Under direction of the House Sergeant-at-Arms, the U.S. Capitol building is also closed to all tours. Other attractions in D.C., including the White House, FBI, and Bureau of Engraving and Printing, have suspended tours indefinitely.

My district offices in Lacey and Lakewood are also physically closed and continuing operations remotely. All staff members are teleworking and monitoring emails and voicemails. If you have casework inquiries or other questions, please contact my district staff at 360-459-8514.

We’re adapting to this unprecedented time, just like you, and I am committed to offering assistance to you however our office can provide it. Your health and safety is my top priority. Take care of yourself and be kind to others—together, we can keep our South Sound community healthy.


Denny Heck