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Gov. Inslee outlines ‘strategic approach’ to reopen Washington state

Gov. Inslee on Tuesday. (TVW)

Gov. Inslee on Tuesday outlined an approach to gradually reopen Washington state

The governor did not announce an extension of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order, which is set to expire on Monday, May 4. Nor did he announce an earlier date to reopen.

Dr. Jeff Duchin: ‘We’re not exactly where we need to be’ to reopen WA

“It’ll look more like turning a dial than flipping a switch,” Inslee said of the timeline.

Inslee says the return to public life will occur in measured steps, guided by science. He said his office will be transparent about the data it’s using to make decisions about loosening or tightening the Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative.

The governor said there will be 1,500 workers focused solely on contact tracing by the second week of May. “Somewhat like a fire brigade.”

However, Inslee said the state currently lacks the amount of testing it needs, and he sent a letter to Vice President Pence on Tuesday requesting assistance. There is more lab capacity in Washington state than test kits, Inslee said.

Until there is a vaccine, workplaces will look much different, according to the governor. He added that the state will provide guidance to industries so that they can safely reopen.

There will also need to be a system of community support during the recovery, including food and housing security, social and emotional support, child care, and equitable access to service.

“We simply have to redouble our efforts to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Inslee said.

Confirmed coronavirus cases across Washington state

The governor said the state has done an exemplary job in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 so far. Below are three steps the state is using to guide the reopening.

Step 1: Protect the Health and Safety of Washingtonians

Inslee said the state will be guided by data and science to continue to suppress the virus and protect the most vulnerable populations. They will focus on decreasing cases and deaths and work to make sure there is sufficient testing and contact tracing before loosening restrictions.

Step 2: Facilitate a Safe Start and Transition to Economic Recovery

Inslee said a healthy workforce is necessary for a health economy. The state will take steps to get people back to work in a way that protects them and their communities.

Step 3: Support all People and Communities   

Inslee said the state will use an equity lens for recovery efforts, with particular attention to those who’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including communities of color, homeless individuals, people with disabilities, and those who are unemployed, experiencing poverty, and food insecurity.

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