New York              -          Tenino had become a ghost town, and small businesses were struggling to survive amid the coronavirus pandemic, so local officials revived an unconventional idea from the last century: printing the town’s own currency on thin planks of wood.  “There was no trading, no selling and the city streets were dead. They looked the same at 3 pm as they did at 3 am,” said Wayne Fournier, mayor of the town of 1,800 people in Washington state, in the northwestern United States.

“We were getting a lot of calls from businesses saying they were not sure if they would be able to hang on,” he told AFP.  The town’s museum had a printing press, so it was put to use to make $10,000 worth of bills on wooden rectangles, each nominally worth $25.

They feature a portrait of President George Washington and bear a Latin inscription that translates as “We’ve got it under control.” The money is being given as a grant to locals who demonstrate they have been economically harmed by the pandemic. Each resident is allowed up to $300 per month.

Known as “Tenino dollars,” “COVID dollars” or, sometimes, “Wayne dollars” after the mayor himself, the bills are traded at almost all shops in the town at a fixed rate equivalent to $1. The currency is good only inside the town limits.