Gov. Inslee warns ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ order may need to be extended
Mar 26, 2020, 2:30 PM
Gov. Jay Inslee reminded all Washingtonians to stay home and do their part to help limit the spread of the coronavirus across the state, even in places where cases are low.
“Whatever we are seeing in Seattle today could be in Walla Walla very shortly, in Port Angeles, in Centralia,” he said in a press conference Thursday.
Everyone needs to “bend our shoulders to this task” to protect the entire state of Washington, Inslee said. He again encouraged people across the state to maintain social distancing, as it is our only weapon against this virus.
He also commended Washingtonians for “overwhelming compliance,” crediting that state residents know what it is to work together and “take a little hardship for gain in the long run.”
“Anxiety in our state is understandably high,” he said. “But I do want to reiterate, we may be hunkered down, but we are not locked down. … You can do things essential to your livelihood for these essential industries. We do want you to limit those activities in ways that make common sense, however.”
Inslee encouraged people to keep socializing and staying connected by reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors with the help of technology.
“We are only in the first two weeks, and people need to understand this: This order may need to be extended,” he said. “And the reason is, we simply cannot allow this virus to be slowed, but then spring back upon us. We’ve got to pound it, and we’ve got to pound it until it’s done.”
Inslee said the Stay Home, Stay Healthy two-week order is a “pause” that will allow the state to examine the progress being made and then determine next steps.
There have already been some encouraging signs in the Puget Sound area, Inslee reported. He mentioned that additional facilities to boost hospital capacity are on the way, and the Army Corps of Engineers are looking at sites in Washington to add hospital surge capacity.
More than 31,000 tests have been conducted in Washington state, but there is a continued, unmet need for testing.
Inslee has asked for increased support from the federal government for testing materials, speaking with the president and vice president on this issue Thursday morning. He said we need to continue dramatic efforts to increase testing capacity, and won’t be able to do so without help at the federal level.
Washington state has received significant shipments of personal protective equipment and other supplies from the federal government, and for that he is thankful and appreciative.
However, he continues to have “profound long-term concerns” about being able to procure these necessities as the response to the pandemic continues. The state has purchased equipment now from private vendors, and has received many generous donations. Even with these efforts, Inslee said we still cannot meet the demands statewide.
Inslee believes it will take the full capacity of the manufacturing industry in the United States to have enough supplies for all 50 states, and called for additional federal help and a federal system similar to what was used in World War II.
Right now, it’s a “mad scramble” as all states in the United States compete for the same supplies, he said.
Among the crisis, there is hopeful news. While we have not turned the corner, and are not close to the end of this battle, he said, there is some evidence that the community mitigation strategies that have been put in place in Washington state — including the closure of businesses and bans on large gatherings — have been able to slow the rate of infections.
It may be a small reduction, but Inslee called it a “glimmer of hope” as we continue to enforce stay-at-home measures to slow the spread of this fatal disease and work toward a sense of normalcy once again.