Life under cononavirus: The good, the bad and ‘where’s my $1,000 check?’

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Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kunts speaks at a press conference Thursday involving community leaders addressing the COVID-19 outbreak.

Has closure of the bars meant fewer drunk drivers?

Those numbers aren’t all available but it certainly looks like it.

Monday through Thursday this week, the Washington State Patrol made only three DUI arrests in District 6, which includes Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Kittitas counties. And one of those, in Kittitas County, was for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Over that four days, there were no DUIs in Chelan and Douglas counties.

Trooper John Bryant noted that with the exception of a Tuesday morning arrest in Okanogan County, there were no other St. Patrick’s Day DUI arrests.

St. Patrick’s Day was also DUI-arrest-free in District 3, which includes Yakima and the Tri-Cities.

Wenatchee Police Capt. Edgar Reinfeld said, anecdotally, DUIs have dropped significantly in the city but Monday he’ll look for some actual comparison data after a week of no bars.

Is the Washington National Guard being mobilized

In a tweet Thursday, WA National Guard used capital letters to say it isn’t.

Are we running out of blood?

There have been more than 177 blood drives cancelled in Washington and Oregon since the coronavirus outbreak, creating what the Washington Department of Health calls a “significant public health risk.”

Betsy Robertson, a communications manager with the Northwest Region of the American Red Cross said there have been 4,886 fewer donations in the two states.

But at the same time, Wenatchee is stepping up.

Ryan Rodin, Greater Inland Northwest Red Cross executive director, said several Wenatchee-area blood drives were cancelled this week but the ones that were held filled up with donors.

“There are a number of drives taking place in the next two to three weeks,” Rodin said. “We’re actually having kind of the reverse problem now. We’ve been getting word out so well that the drives are filling up pretty quick.”

Before giving blood, donors are screened for any connections to coronavirus. Part of the routine for donating already includes evaluation of temperature, current health and travel history.

It now also includes scheduling donations in advance so social distancing guidelines can be followed.

You can find information on local blood drives on the Red Cross website.

Why was the deadline on studded tires extended?

The Washington State Department of Transportation on Friday gave motorists until April 30 the get their studded tires off, extending the deadline from March 31.

“Currently many employers, including tire removal services, are sending employees home to help stop the spread of the virus, so people’s ability to meet the deadline could be difficult,” the DOT posted.

But WSDOT still wants you to take those tires off as soon as possible.

Are Washington’s highway rest areas being shut down? And are the highways next?

Not currently. And almost certainly not.

There hasn’t been any indication the state is considering stopping people from driving.

They’re still legally driving on freeways and highways in California, where the governor issued a “Stay-At-Home” order Thursday.

But the California order has certainly cut down on the number of drivers.

KCAL TV in Los Angeles reports gridlock has turned into smooth sailing on that city’s traditionally clogged freeway system.

As for rest stops, political leaders have stressed the importance of keeping the supply chains open, and a big part of that is uninterrupted trucking.

And rest areas are an important part of trucking.

In fact, Washington State Patrol Trooper John Bryant tweeted out a video this week showing lots of trucks at a rest stop near Cle Elum.

When will I get my federal check? And how much?

This is still being debated in Congress, with Republicans in the Senate having proposed a trillion-dollar economic stimulus bill that would include direct cash payments to citizens.

President Trump has voiced support for sending out one or more $1,000 checks to Americans but it’s unclear what the details would be on those.

Another administration idea is $3,000 for a family of four.

The Senate legislation would provide $1,200 per adult, as well as $500 per child.

However, that proposal also would provide smaller checks for people earning $75,000 or more and nothing for people earning more than $99,000.

The direct payments are not getting unanimous support, even from Republicans who control the Senate. And whatever stimulus package is eventually passed in the Senate will need to negotiated with Democratic leaders in the House, who have some different ideas.

The Treasury Department has proposed cash payments to citizens be issued both April 6 and May 18, but until Congress acts, nothing is certain yet.

Congress already has passed two other COVID-19 spending bills.

The payments to citizens could be decided at any moment, so watch for info on reputable news sites.

What about filing your federal tax return?

April 15 is no longer the deadline for getting your taxes in. The federal government has extended the deadline to July 15.

Is the government going to stop collecting income taxes?

President Trump proposed something like this earlier this month but he is now focused on direct checks to Americans, so it doesn’t seem likely.